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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

RFA Gunner from Somerset, in India


SharonB
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My great grandfather, Edwin James Bollen, was born (1889) and lived in Ilchester, Somerset. The only records I can find regarding his time during WW1 are his medal card and medal roll entry (Ancestry.co.uk). He was a gunner in the RFA, regiment no. 216629 and he only received the British medal. Edwin told the family he went to India and tales of the Gurkhas. I have 2 studio photos of him in uniform, one with a riding crop and spurs.

Is there any way of finding out which Regiment he was in, when he joined up and when he went to India - from such little info? Thanks!

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Welcome to the Forum SharonB,

 

His number indicates that he first joining No. 8 Reserve Brigade RHA (TF) at Bulford on February 21, 1917. As the name implies, this was the reserve unit that was mainly responsible for supplying reinforcements for the Territorial Force RHA units. However, some do get posted to regular units in India. For example, 216675 Percy George Longley, who joined a few days afterwards, was sent to U battery RHA in India. I suspect that your great grandfather was transferred to an RFA unit in India for him to be labelled as such. There were still quite a few that did not see any action which was why he only received the British War Medal. A specific RFA unit might be given in the Absent Voters Lists for Ilchester if these have survived or a local newspaper may give a mention. I doubt he would have left for India before June 1917.

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Unfortunately no luck finding the Ilchester Absent Voters List or any mention in the local newspapers on line.

Edwin was 28 when he joined at Bulford, so I assume he must have been conscripted. Would this be around the right date for men of his age group? He was unmarried and not in an important job, just a labourer as far as I know. Thanks.

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It is likely he was conscripted but there is an outside chance he registered under the Derby Scheme and was called up some time after his group was called. Single men born in 1889 were called up from February 8, 1916 but obviously not all could be catered for on the one day. There is also the possibility he was the subject of a Local Tribunal which delayed his call up into 1917. 

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For general background information about Territorial Troops in India, see the FIBIS Fibiwiki page First World War, section British Army Territorial Force troops in India

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/First_World_War#British_Army_Territorial_Force_troops_in_India

 

Includes some links to personal accounts from men mainly from men in Infantry regiments, whose  experiences were probably similar to men in the Royal Artillery, but also the following

Voyage to India: Memoirs of the 1st/3rd Kent Battery 1914 Frank William Critchley was 22 years old and a sergeant in the 1st/3rd Kent Battery, Royal Artillery. He travelled to India on the troopship Grantully Castle which departed Southampton 29 Oct 1914 and arrived Bombay 2 December 1914.

 

Cheers

Maureen

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