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Uniform Help Please - Woolwich Arsenal?


debby

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Hello All

I'm helping a friend with some family research and she has a photo of a Thomas R Ellis born 1871 (below).  Having done some research on him I know he worked at the Woolwich Arsenal as a Writer/Correspondence Clerk for all of his working life and died age 76 in 1948.  In the 1901 census he is living at the same address as appears on the photo

Is this uniform a ceremonial one or maybe a territorial unit?  I have not found any evidence to suggest he was a soldier

Thank you for your help

Debby

 

1914072502_ThomasREllis.png.e07299de18cfec3b7f983da58649581c.png

 

Edited by debby
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Larger version, plus a close-up of the cuffs, collar dogs and helmet plate.

 

1914072502_ThomasREllis.jpg.5619080a3c3cc1989d7399096c570bed.jpg

 

1789692469_1914072502_ThomasREllis02.jpg.680a8e9ba1ab553710b79222576ca7a6.jpg

 

 

 

Is not Thomas R Ellis is more likely to be the photographer's name?

 

Edited by MBrockway
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29 minutes ago, MBrockway said:

Larger version, plus a close-up of the cuffs, collar dogs and helmet plate.

 

1914072502_ThomasREllis.jpg.5619080a3c3cc1989d7399096c570bed.jpg

 

1789692469_1914072502_ThomasREllis02.jpg.680a8e9ba1ab553710b79222576ca7a6.jpg

 

 

 

Is not Thomas R Ellis is more likely to be the photographer's name?

 

Agree a photographer in Plumsead

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33 minutes ago, MBrockway said:

Larger version, plus a close-up of the cuffs, collar dogs and helmet plate.

 

1914072502_ThomasREllis.jpg.5619080a3c3cc1989d7399096c570bed.jpg

 

1789692469_1914072502_ThomasREllis02.jpg.680a8e9ba1ab553710b79222576ca7a6.jpg

 

 

 

Is not Thomas R Ellis is more likely to be the photographer's name?

Agree. Looks like photographer in Plumstead

 

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I know what you all mean because that was my first thought and that was my starting point but Thomas Robert Ellis lived at Leghorn Road in 1901 and worked at the Woolwich Arsenal, in 1911 he was still at Woolwich Arsenal working for the Government so unless he was also a part time photographer, which can't be right.  It is odd though.

His brother Frederick also worked at the Woolwich Arsenal in 1911

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So there is not a definite name for the man in the picture??

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The very light coloured piping to his RA full dress uniform suggests that he is a member of their militia,  a part-time auxiliary force that wore white lace (ORs).  He wears the rank of a Quartermaster Sergeant specialist (4-inverted stripes with a gun badge superimposed) and, as part of the HQ staff sergeant grouping he carries a sword.  He was very probably a RA Staff Clerk, an employment group that later transferred to the ASC, and then again to the AOC, under various reorganisations of the departmental corps in the 1890s.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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I was drawn to this topic because two of the King's Royal Rifle Corps militia battalions had their BHQ's at Woolwich, but on doing the close-ups, this man looked to be a gunner and definitely NOT a rifleman.  Thought other Pals would get something out of the close-ups though :thumbsup:

 

Since the photo is monochrome, it's probably worth stating this tunic will be blue rather than scarlet of course.

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It is a full dress uniform, and therefore pre-dates 1914, as nearly all full dress was suspended (effectively abolished apart from bands and the Guards) a few days after the war began.

 

The RA still had staff clerks in 1914 and the ball on the helmet would certainly suggest RA - the ASC had spikes, as did the infantry.

 

Ron

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14 hours ago, debby said:

I know what you all mean because that was my first thought and that was my starting point but Thomas Robert Ellis lived at Leghorn Road in 1901 and worked at the Woolwich Arsenal, in 1911 he was still at Woolwich Arsenal working for the Government so unless he was also a part time photographer, which can't be right.  It is odd though.

His brother Frederick also worked at the Woolwich Arsenal in 1911

 

I should have answered your post directly and so am repeating my response here:

 

The very light coloured piping to his RA full dress uniform suggests that he is a member of their militia,  a part-time auxiliary force that wore white lace (ORs).  He wears the rank of a Quartermaster Sergeant specialist (4-inverted stripes with a gun badge superimposed) and, as part of the HQ staff sergeant grouping he carries a sword.  He was very probably a RA Staff Clerk, an employment group that later transferred to the ASC, and then again to the AOC, under various reorganisations of the departmental corps in the 1890s.

 

N.B.  The militia were a de facto Reserve force for the British Regular Army at that time.  After around 6 to 8 weeks initial full time training they then returned to their civilian lives with only an obligation to attend a fortnight long training camp each year.  In return they received a cash bounty annually.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Thank you all so much.  My friend is an Ellis and Thomas Ellis was her grandfather's brother.  We didn't know that the man in the photo was Thomas Ellis but it makes sense as he was certainly not a photographer although granted it is a bit strange to have your address on a photo of yourself.  I have the original at the moment and it is on thick card but not a postcard.  It's almost like he is advertising himself.

 

I don't know much about the Army or how it all works but I'm assuming RA is Royal Artillery and there were units who did the training, then were sort of in reserve incase of trouble maybe like the TAs' today and they did training each year to keep their hand in, is that right?  Would this particular militia be connected with the Woolwich Arsenal, like an employment pals thing do you think?

 

Going by the censuses he lived at that address after 1897 (when he got married) to pre 1911 when he was living elsewhere, which would fit in with what you all think above

 

Thank you again

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 We didn't know that the man in the photo was Thomas Ellis but it makes sense as he was certainly not a photographer although granted it is a bit strange to have your address on a photo of yourself.  I have the original at the moment and it is on thick card but not a postcard. 

 

not seen another like it.perhaps done at work? Do you ave other images of him to compare that it is him?

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11 hours ago, debby said:

Thank you all so much.  My friend is an Ellis and Thomas Ellis was her grandfather's brother.  We didn't know that the man in the photo was Thomas Ellis but it makes sense as he was certainly not a photographer although granted it is a bit strange to have your address on a photo of yourself.  I have the original at the moment and it is on thick card but not a postcard.  It's almost like he is advertising himself.

 

I don't know much about the Army or how it all works but I'm assuming RA is Royal Artillery and there were units who did the training, then were sort of in reserve incase of trouble maybe like the TAs' today and they did training each year to keep their hand in, is that right?  Would this particular militia be connected with the Woolwich Arsenal, like an employment pals thing do you think?

 

Going by the censuses he lived at that address after 1897 (when he got married) to pre 1911 when he was living elsewhere, which would fit in with what you all think above

 

Thank you again

 

Your surmising is quite accurate I believe.

There were three auxiliary forces at that time; the Militia, the Yeomanry Cavalry, and the Volunteer Force of riflemen.  The Militia was by far the oldest (older than the regular army), originally a compulsory contribution of men by each parish, and the means by which King’s and Queen’s raised an army quickly, which was organised by each County Lieutenant.  Like the regular army they were publicly funded (unlike the other two auxiliary forces) and wore a similar uniform, but with minor differences that made clear their part-time status.

In 1908 the three auxiliary forces merged to form the Territorial Force, which later became the Territorial Army.

It seems likely that Thomas Ellis joined the Militia unit associated with his workplace and took the opportunity to both, raise his social status and earn some extra money each year.  His rank of Quartermaster Sergeant (QMS) was the second highest that a militiaman could achieve below commissioned officer, so he was clearly well thought of and competent in his duties.

It seems likely that the image is a Carte De Visite (CDV).  These were originally used as visiting cards that a man would leave when calling in/visiting and so it was entirely natural for the original CDVs to include a name and address.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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1 hour ago, FROGSMILE said:

In 1908 the three auxiliary forces merged to form the Territorial Force, which later became the Territorial Army.

 

 

My understanding was in 1908 the Militia became the Special Reserve, which was separate from the Territorial Force.

 

The SR battalions were administered by the Regular Army's regimental system rather than the TF Associations.  Certainly this was true for the KRRC, which had no TF battalions between 1908 and 1916, but did support two Reserve battalions, both former Militia battalions.

 

I'm not certain how this was implemented outside the infantry.

 

IIRC, Haldane's original conception was that the militia and Volunteer Force would be merged, but vested interests from the parties involved resisted this so strongly that he was obliged to compromise or risk his Bill falling.

 

Edited by MBrockway
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4 minutes ago, MBrockway said:

My understanding was in 1908 the Militia became the Special Reserve, which was separate from the Territorial Force.

 

The SR battalions were administered by the Regular Army's regimental system rather than the TF Associations.  Certainly this was true for the KRRC, which had no TF battalions between 1908 and 1916, but did support two Reserve battalions.

This is correct. The Militia had long been partially a feeder force for the Regulars, and gave men a chance to try out soldiering to see if they liked it, and often moved into the Regulars if they did. 

 

The Territorials were originally formed for home defence only (though it is difficult to say that Haldane did not have foreign service in mind) and were always intended to be trained to fight as formed units, whereas the Special Reserve, although organised in battalions, were not intended to be used as formed units, but rather as reinforcements for the Regulars.

 

There were more Special Reserve battalions in Ireland, where there were no Territorials.

 

Ron

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Thank you both for clarifying those points and outlining the politics that got in the way of Haldane’s original intention.  Hopefully we enthusiasts will not have confused Debby 😬

Edited by FROGSMILE
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There is an excellent review of Haldane's plans, the political obstructions he faced and the consequences of the resulting compromises in the Prologue to Peter Simkins's Kitchener's Army.

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Thank you everyone, you are all so knowledgeable and my friend will be happy too.

 

 I first came here in about 2007 to ask about my grandad who served in WW1, he survived although quite badly injured, he died young.  His war record survived so I was lucky there and with everyone's help I was able to discover what battles he was involved in and where he was when he was wounded in 1916.  My dad was so happy to finally know what had happened to his father and my dad died a year later in 2008, I was so grateful to the people on this board who gave me the opportunity to share that with him.   

 

On 27/05/2018 at 12:43, FROGSMILE said:

Thank you both for clarifying those points and outlining the politics that got in the way of Haldane’s original intention.  Hopefully we enthusiasts will not have confused Debby 😬

 

Not at all, I'm very happy to cherry pick the info I need and let the rest go over my head :D but seriously, it is all interesting to me and I enjoy learning.

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3 hours ago, debby said:

Thank you everyone, you are all so knowledgeable and my friend will be happy too.

 

 I first came here in about 2007 to ask about my grandad who served in WW1, he survived although quite badly injured, he died young.  His war record survived so I was lucky there and with everyone's help I was able to discover what battles he was involved in and where he was when he was wounded in 1916.  My dad was so happy to finally know what had happened to his father and my dad died a year later in 2008, I was so grateful to the people on this board who gave me the opportunity to share that with him.   

 

 

Not at all, I'm very happy to cherry pick the info I need and let the rest go over my head :D but seriously, it is all interesting to me and I enjoy learning.

 

I was happy to help, I understand how satisfying it can be to discover and understand family history.

It has been interesting for me, too, to see a photo of a member of the RA Militia, such images are occasionally seen (especially in forums like this), but in general are quite rare.

Given your subject’s apparent age and rank, he seems unlikely to have still been serving when the Militia became the Special Reserve, although he might well have played an active part in assisting with the administrative war effort during WW1.

At the time when he was a serving member of the Militia, Woolwich was an enormous garrison by British standards with large numbers of soldiers ‘walking-out’ of barracks a daily, and unremarkable sight.  By far the largest presence was that of the Royal Artillery, although there were many other units as well.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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