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GrenPen

Hello,

 

I have spent several years researching the men of the South Wales Borderers in 1914. The most confusing part has been that the service numbers are not unique, with the Regulars and the Special Reservists being issued similar numbers concurrently.

As well as compiling lists of men who received medals, I have been endeavouring to get some biographical detail. Where service records have survived, I have been able to get the basics with regard to stated age and place of birth. The 1911 Census has been useful to plug some gaps. This associated metadata - Do they appear on the census at a military address? Did they receive a Silver War Badge? Were they a POW? Did their army service record survive? - is useful for researchers. Even if the individual did not have much material that has survived, the researcher can look at what survived for their "oppos" and to try to piece together what may have occurred in terms of overseas or domestic postings.

The goal is to record all pre-war members of the South Wales Borderers. At the heart of this objective has been the task of identifying those men of the 1st and 2nd Battalions - in France and China respectively - and to find whatever I can about these men.

There is one caveat to this - as well as the pre-war men, I have also gathered details on those men who enlisted at the outbreak of war, and were deployed to France prior to 23rd November 1914. Most of these men  - just under 400 - had prior military experience, and thus found themselves in a subsequent wave of reinforcements.

The biggest surprise I encountered whilst researching this is that although just the one battalion was on the Western Front, just under 2,000 men were awarded the 1914 Star. It brought home to me just how sizable the butchers bill was in 1914.

The basics have been added to the site, and as time allows I will be augmenting the data. I have adopted a new approach to how one piece of information is captured, so I need to work through that before I can complete a given batch of data.

It came as a bit of a shock just how much hard work was required when I started researching a family member that was in the regiment. A lot of the hard work is to determine what has survived. It is my hope that this will be of use to others - be they researching an individual, or postgrads looking for an existing dataset that can be researched further as the basis of a thesis. It is a simple flat file project.

Here is the homepage

https://swb1914.uk/index.php/home/

 

Here is an example of a completed subset, which is both elements of medal received and metadata. It pertains to one of two groups of men who enlisted at the outbreak of war.

https://swb1914.uk/index.php/the-1st-battalion/war-outbreak-1/

 




 

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Bernard_Lewis

Coming along nicely! Congratulations!

 

Bernard

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roselyn2

NIce to see some of the medals in my collection to the South Wales Borderers on your list. Well done on the research.    Lyn.

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GrenPen

Thank you. I hope it saves other people time, to quickly determine "what is out there"

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clive_hughes

Hi GrenPen,

I tried to find Edgar Lewis Delan 10827 on your lists, who was a pre-war regular serving 1st SWB in France from Aug. 1914 until killed at 1st Ypres.  He doesn't seem to appear on your rolls? 

 

Cheers,

Clive

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GrenPen

Hi Clive, 

Well spotted, he is an omission, so I will add him to my excel list. In due course, he will appear along with metadata about what is available. He's interesting as he's American and appears on the US 1900 Census in New York. SDGW states that he enlisted at Brecon. 10825 Willard and 10830 Dart enlisted on 16th June ans 24th June respectively.

Thanks for this!

Regards

GP

I was too quick to post - based on the above Delan would have enlisted late June 1912.

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roselyn2

GP. On your list under the number 10501 A. Coode. In my collection. I've got the same number 10501 to E. Fitzgerald.    You would think that a soldier would have his own number only issued to him ?. I've got the same problem with the Monmouthshire Regiment 3507 Baynham and Lewis.    Lyn.

Edited by roselyn2
Did not finish lost connection.

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GrenPen

Hi Lyn, the challenge is the fact that there were two sets of numbers in the same range being issued.

 

Private Edward Fitzgerald was born in Pontypridd in 1895. He enlisted in August 1910 under Regular terms of service (10490 Winkworth enlisted on 8 Aug, 10500 Owens enlisted on 26 Aug 1910, 10510 Biggs enlisted on 30 Aug 1910.) He appears on the 1911 Census with the 1st Battalion at Chatham. He was with the 2nd Battalion at the outbreak of war. He took part in the Siege of Tsingtao and died of wounds at Gallipoli.

 

The mysterious A Goode, by default, would have enlisted in September 1909 under Special Reservist terms of service (3/10497 Pritchard enlisted on 1 Sep 1909). As you can see there is an eleven month lag at this point between numbers. Under his terms of enlistment, he would notionally have been Time Expired (6 years service + 1 for the King in wartime) in September 1916.

 

Regards

GP
 

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GrenPen

Note to self
Found the following item of interest from the GWF.
 

Quote

1st Bn South Wales Borderers. The History of the South Wales Borderers records 1,038 Reservists reported for duty on mobilisation of which only 6 proved to be medically unfit and that 631 were sent to Bordon to make up the 1st Battalion including the 10% "first reinforcements". When the Bn went overseas on 12th August it departed with 26 Officers, 1 Warrant officer, 49 Sergeants and 911 men [26 Officers and 961 ORs]. The 10% Reinforcements sailed a week later. Assuming 10% Reinforcements equated to 96 ORs, this would imply that 535 of the ORs in the 1st Bn SWB were reservists, or something in the region of 55.7%.



 


The above was from the following post in September 2012:

 

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GrenPen
On 04/11/2017 at 14:02, GrenPen said:

Hi Lyn, the challenge is the fact that there were two sets of numbers in the same range being issued.

 

Private Edward Fitzgerald was born in Pontypridd in 1895. He enlisted in August 1910 under Regular terms of service (10490 Winkworth enlisted on 8 Aug, 10500 Owens enlisted on 26 Aug 1910, 10510 Biggs enlisted on 30 Aug 1910.) He appears on the 1911 Census with the 1st Battalion at Chatham. He was with the 2nd Battalion at the outbreak of war. He took part in the Siege of Tsingtao and died of wounds at Gallipoli.

 

The mysterious A Goode, by default, would have enlisted in September 1909 under Special Reservist terms of service (3/10497 Pritchard enlisted on 1 Sep 1909). As you can see there is an eleven month lag at this point between numbers. Under his terms of enlistment, he would notionally have been Time Expired (6 years service + 1 for the King in wartime) in September 1916.

 

Regards

GP
 

 

Whilst looking for something else, I came across the following, in relation to the "3/" prefix which often appears for Special Reservists

 

Quote

On 18th May 1915, Army Council Instruction 144 attempted to deal with the problem of duplicate numbering by instructing that where such duplication existed, a soldier's regimental number would be prefixed by the number of the battalion in which he was serving thus, for example, 5/3492

 

Source: Paul Nixon's blog

http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/army-number-prefixes.html

 

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GrenPen

A quick update on a recent development with the website that I created.

I have added some instructions on how to "suck up" the data from the website into a spreadsheet, be it Microsoft BI Power Query, Excel (common-or-garden version), Google sheets or OpenOffice calc.

The scope of the website - men in the South Wales Borderers in 1914 at the outbreak of war - has largely been met by two subsets, that of the 1st and 2nd Battalions, in France and China respectively.

I have added a third dataset - to cover other men who weren't with these two battalions, and this is an extra 300 or so men.

To the best of my knowledge and ability I have as many men as I can identify. Several men have been left out because although they joined pre-war, they left prewar too, and the surviving records indicate they re-enlisted. Among this omitted list are the likes of John Fielding VC and 2466 Edward Rallison. They don't meet the second extended scope either - men who reenlisted and were awarded the 1914 Star.

At present the "other" group are showing only names and medal entitlement. In due course I will add metadata, for the sake of completeness.

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GrenPen

I have now added the metadata for these other men.

I took the data for the 1st Battalion, and made a high level summary, based upon the dates when these men disembarked in France.
These are then broken down into three subcategories of:

Regular / Army Reserve

Special Reserve
Recruited at outbreak (and most likely to have had prior military experience).
 

Pt1.png

Pt2.png

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GrenPen

A picture speaks a thousand words, so I quickly constructed a chart of this in Tableau. It is clearly easier to digest this info as a chart than in a tabular format, but the underlying aggregate data in the table can be glanced at too. 

The spacing on the x-axis is not consistent; there is only an entry if instances of disembarkation took place on a given date. I did use some shading on the x-axis to better delineate the months from August to November inclusive.

Graph2.png

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GrenPen

I forgot to add - the dataset consists of Other Ranks and does not include Officers.

 

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Guest

Gren Pen

 

Most interesting. I have done very similar work with the Royal Sussex Regt, Border Regt, Hampshire Regt, Loyal North Lancs, and RWF and the Grenadier Guards. Others on the GWF have similar on the Black Watch, QORWK, East Surrey Regt, so the body of knowledge on the 1914 cohorts is gradually increasing. I have expanded this to the 1914-15 Star in most cases and the BWM & VM in a few cases.  I have a separate thread on Early Disembarkation and Survivability which might benefit from some SWB analysis....

 

One of the issues that has gnawed away at me when analysing these rolls is the number of 'missing' men. If one sorts all the pre-war enlistments on the rolls by Army Number, the chronological sequence is typically riddled with gaps. For example you have 10001  and 10004 but not 10002 and 10003 ...so I wonder if you have had any success tracing the 'missing'? The obvious explanation for is that they either died or were discharged before the war. I have been unable to find any source that recorded the 'wastage' during service or the 'wastage' of the Reservists in the pre-war years. In the remote chance you have not already done so, It is an interesting exercise to list all the numbers that were issued and then populate the spreadsheet with the Star data etc...it helps illustrate the extent of the gaps. 

 

When one compares regiments we see quite large differences in numbers recruited over any defined period as well as large differences in the number of Army Reservists who answered the call in Aug 1914. For example the numbers recruited since the 'new' numbering system started in 1881 can vary as much as 20%...Similarly when we look at the number of Reservists per paired battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers had twice as many Army Reservists than the Connaught Rangers. This is partially (but not wholly) explained by the fact that the Northumberland Fusiliers had been a four-battalion Regiment and had reduced to a two-battalion regiment. However when we look at the RWF, they were the third best recruited Regiment and had similar levels of Reservists as a consequence. I am curious to understand if your detailed work has touched on this aspect.

 

MG

Edited by Guest

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Guest

If you are remotely interested...here is the 2nd Bn SWB War Diary for Gallipoli. Fully transcribed and searchable with a single click... . I have over 200 diaries in this format and over time I plan to add the medal rolls. I have 4th SWB Gallipoli diary transcribed as well. 

 

I have already done the four battalions of the Grenadier Guards diaries for the whole war and added the medal rolls. I plan to publish the roll data as a separate volume. See link at the bottom. 

 

CLICK

Edited by Guest

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charlesmessenger

Grenpen

 

Very interesting graph. Do you have any evidence of wounded/sick serving Regulars returning to the Battalion before the end of First Ypres?

 

Charles M

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GrenPen
22 minutes ago, QGE said:

Gren Pen

 

Most interesting. I have done very similar work with the Royal Sussex Regt, Border Regt, Hampshire Regt, Loyal North Lancs, and RWF and the Grenadier Guards. Others on the GWF have similar on the Black Watch, QORWK, East Surrey Regt, so the body of knowledge on the 1914 cohorts is gradually increasing. I have expanded this to the 1914-15 Star in most cases and the BWM & VM in a few cases.  I have a separate thread on Early Disembarkation and Survivability which might benefit from some SWB analysis....

 

 

Hello Martin,

I did think this posting may pique your interest. From what I have seen on here, most battalion rolls have a coverage of 1900-2000 men for the 1914 Star. Whilst the metadata that i have published does flag whether or not there is a Silver War Badge for the man concerned, I have not recorded any discharge dates as such. It is perhaps something that a War Studies postgrad could follow up for a thesis.

 

I have come across countless cases where the service record survives, the soldier is wounded, evacuated to the UK, and then spends time in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion - perhaps with a posting to the Labour Corps - before eventually being medically discharged. The lead time between being wounded in action and eventual discharge is itself worthy of study. (The waters get muddied where Time Expired men are examined at the time of Discharge, and found to be unfit for further service.)

 

The scope of what I have captured on my Website is thus:
1. Pre-war enlistments, of whom

    a. Enlisted under Regular terms, and were awarded
          i. 1914 Star

          ii. 1914-15 Star, and were in China

          iii. 1914-15 Star, and were not China
          iv. BWM and/or Victory Medal

          v. Home Service, so no campaign medal

    a. Enlisted under Special Reserve terms, and were
          i. awarded 1914 Star

          ii. not awarded 1914

2. Men who enlisted upon the outbreak of war, and appear on the 1914 Star roll. There are about 400 of these, and most have prior military experience.

From what I have seen on here with regard to debate about 1914, the graph does underline some points made:

- To what extent were re-enlisted men preferred to Special Reservists when reinforcement drafts were put together?
- How much faith did leadership have in the fighting ability of the Special Reserve, or were they seen in some quarters as "chocolate soldiers"?

 

Quote

One of the issues that has gnawed away at me when analysing these rolls is the number of 'missing' men. If one sorts all the pre-war enlistments on the rolls by Army Number, the chronological sequence is typically riddled with gaps. For example you have 10001  and 10004 but not 10002 and 10003 ...so I wonder if you have had any success tracing the 'missing'? The obvious explanation for is that they either died or were discharged before the war. I have been unable to find any source that recorded the 'wastage' during service or the 'wastage' of the Reservists in the pre-war years. In the remote chance you have not already done so, It is an interesting exercise to list all the numbers that were issued and then populate the spreadsheet with the Star data etc...it helps illustrate the extent of the gaps. 

 

 

The "missing" men is not something I have explored; it has been outside of the scope of the current exercise. One potential source could be Paul Nixon's "British Army Ancestors" where the names of those men whose records survive in WO 97 have been recorded, along with names from WO 372 (MICs) and elsewhere (service records, perhaps SWB). Of the ten men in the South Wales Borderers in the 966? range, nine have MICs. The tenth man - 9664 Pope - has a surviving record in WO 97, which will explain how he came to leave the army. (Even then, I have come across at least one pre-war enlistment who bought himself out before 1914, yet his service record was in WO 363.)

 

Quote

When one compares regiments we see quite large differences in numbers recruited over any defined period as well as large differences in the number of Army Reservists who answered the call in Aug 1914. For example the numbers recruited since the 'new' numbering system started in 1881 can vary as much as 20%...Similarly when we look at the number of Reservists per paired battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers had twice as many Army Reservists than the Connaught Rangers. This is partially (but not wholly) explained by the fact that the Northumberland Fusiliers had been a four-battalion Regiment and had reduced to a two-battalion regiment. However when we look at the RWF, they were the third best recruited Regiment and had similar levels of Reservists as a consequence. I am curious to understand if your detailed work has touched on this aspect.

 

MG

 

One further exercise that would be worthy would be to determine which men have surviving service records, and for those who enlisted prior to September 1907, recording the date when they transferred to the Army Reserve. This would certainly help in delineating those serving under Regular terms into those men with the Colours at the outbreak, and those in the Army Reserve.

 

Glad that you find this of interest. All of the data is published in tables on my website, so you could extract it for your own analysis if so desired. I have made a point of giving instructions on how the data can be extracted to various spreadsheets, be it Power Pivot, Excel, Google Sheets or Open Office Calc.

 

Regards

GP

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GrenPen

Hi Charles,

 

What I had started to do - but stopped owing to time constraints - was to populate a "to date" for several of the 1st Battalion subsets. To take two examples:
12345 Private Williams arrives in France on 13 August with the battalion. He is killed in action on 31 October 1914 at Gheluvelt, so this is recorded as his "to date", and 13 Aug is his "from date"

9876 Lance Corporal Jones arrives in France on 22 August. His service record shows that he was wounded in action at Gheluvelt on 31 October, and is evacuated back to the UK several days later. In this instance, the "from date" records 22 August, and the "to date" records 31 October.

 

If a war diary states that x amount of men were wounded at a given action, this helps to positively identify some of those men. 

 

To further muddy the waters, with regard to men in a Theatre of War, I came across a former cook who was sent to Le Havre by a military policeman during a chaotic period. He was retained at the base, in order to cook for the Military Police, and happily retained by an officer. Whilst he was in France (a theatre of war), he was not on active service with the Battalion as an active member, but was on detached duty owing to circumstances. 

 

Quote

Grenpen

 

Very interesting graph. Do you have any evidence of wounded/sick serving Regulars returning to the Battalion before the end of First Ypres?

 

Charles M

 

In most instances of men being wounded, I did not see them returning - if at all - until the New Year. Some men of the 1st Battalion were withdrawn to the UK at the end of the year, so as to bolster the 2nd Battalion which had returned from China, and was about to be sent to Gallipoli once it was brought up to war establishment strength.

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GrenPen

Prior to the reinforcements, the main body arrived in France. Below is the summary that I have for this:
 

Initial_deployment.png

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clive_hughes

"Missing men" - I too have come across soldiers who bought themselves out, so that is a possibility. 

 

Also there were men who enlisted for General Service rather than for a particular corps.  The result could be, in a case I examined, that he served as a numbered Private in one regiment for only 74 days before being transferred into another.  The reason, I think, was that the second regiment were preparing to go overseas and needed their ranks filling.  His terms of enlistment meant that he could be switched.  Just another possibility, anyway, and based on an 1880s example at that!  

 

Clive

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GrenPen
On 11/01/2018 at 18:31, QGE said:

One of the issues that has gnawed away at me when analysing these rolls is the number of 'missing' men. If one sorts all the pre-war enlistments on the rolls by Army Number, the chronological sequence is typically riddled with gaps. For example you have 10001  and 10004 but not 10002 and 10003 ...so I wonder if you have had any success tracing the 'missing'? The obvious explanation for is that they either died or were discharged before the war. I have been unable to find any source that recorded the 'wastage' during service or the 'wastage' of the Reservists in the pre-war years. In the remote chance you have not already done so, It is an interesting exercise to list all the numbers that were issued and then populate the spreadsheet with the Star data etc...it helps illustrate the extent of the gaps. 

 

When one compares regiments we see quite large differences in numbers recruited over any defined period as well as large differences in the number of Army Reservists who answered the call in Aug 1914.

MG

 

I have added some extra detail, where applicable, to the first five sets of regulars of the 1st Battalion. The extra detail is 1. the date of transfer to Army Reserve from the surviving service record, and 2. The terms of service in years, be it 3 and 9, 9 and 3 or the return to 7 and 5. This, in conjunction with the 1911 Census column, should allow for the stratification of those men who were i. with the Colours at the outbreak, and ii. who had already transferred to the Army Reserve prior to the outbreak of war. 

 

It should more easily allow for the identification of those numbers of "missing" men on Regular terms too. (The challenge with the Special Reserve is that some men would subsequently leave the SR and enlist under Regular terms, and you only know this from surviving service records if the details have survived.)

This has also been added to those "others" who were serving at the outbreak, but were neither with the 1st Battalion nor the 2nd Battalion.

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GrenPen
On 11/01/2018 at 19:31, GrenPen said:

One further exercise that would be worthy would be to determine which men have surviving service records, and for those who enlisted prior to September 1907, recording the date when they transferred to the Army Reserve. This would certainly help in delineating those serving under Regular terms into those men with the Colours at the outbreak, and those in the Army Reserve.

 

The above is what is what I have done, but I hadn't foreseen it being completed way ahead of schedule.

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GrenPen

My involvement on several other projects has seen me take a break from the website, but I have added some more content:

1914 POWs - an attempt to list those men who were captured in 1914, along with the capture date. This has been very time intensive. Two recent posts on the forum were made, in relation to this task.

Brecknocks in India/Aden - those men of the Brecknock Battalion who left Southampton in October 1914 for overseas service, and became eligible for the 1914/15 Star. It is simply a list of names, but it was quicker to research then the POW list. I won't be doing any further research on these men, but they are in scope of being listed on the website.

 

https://swb1914.uk/

 

 

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