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searching_for_years

Did newly-enlisted soldiers usually join newly-formed units?

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searching_for_years

Hello,

 

Putting together the jigsaw pieces of information from within the family with what I have learned from the generous help of other members of this forum, I/we have worked out that my grandfather probably signed up with the King's Liverpool Battalion (voluntarily, when a few months under age) at the end of 1915 or the beginning of 1916, and chose or was allocated to join the 43rd Provisional Battalion, which consisted of  KLR territorial soldiers who were on pre-war terms & conditions and were not willing to be sent abroad, plus newer recruits who were too young or not medically fit to be sent abroad. (He would have fallen into the latter category). This battalion was later re-named the 25th Labour Company of the KLR - and my grandfather then seems to have gone to France with the 5th battalion when he was eighteen and a half.

 

So ... if SKS could tell me the date in 1915 on which the 43rd Provisional Battalion was formed, would that be a reasonable indication of when my grandfather joined up, or would new recruits have been drip-fed into the Battalion over a period of time?

 

(I also have a follow-up question, but one thing at a time!!)

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tullybrone

Hi,

 

Dont know whether you’ve seen this forum topic?

 

Have you looked at Long Long Trail?

 

http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/kings-liverpool-regiment/

 

Look under Kings Liverpool 25th/26th Battalion and you will see mention of 43rd & 44th Provisonal Battalions KLR. Still doesn’t give a date but clarifies they were created in 1915 to hold TF home service personnel which would include your under age relative.

 

Have you contacted KLR Museum at Museum of Liverpool?

 

I’m sure a Regimental expert will be along shortly.

 

Steve

 

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searching_for_years
1 hour ago, tullybrone said:

Hi,

 

Dont know whether you’ve seen this forum topic?

 

Have you looked at Long Long Trail?

 

http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/kings-liverpool-regiment/

 

Look under Kings Liverpool 25th/26th Battalion and you will see mention of 43rd & 44th Provisonal Battalions KLR. Still doesn’t give a date but clarifies they were created in 1915 to hold TF home service personnel which would include your under age relative.

 

Have you contacted KLR Museum at Museum of Liverpool?

 

I’m sure a Regimental expert will be along shortly.

 

Steve

 

Hi Steve, thanks very much for responding. Yes, I had seen both of those, and have also looked at the website of the KLR museum though haven't actually been there yet. A relative established that there was nothing specifically about my grandfather there (and the website search engine doesn't find him either), but that was before I knew what battalions he'd been in so I guess there might be stuff about the 25th there. Have you been there / if so, is there?

 

Thanks again

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searching_for_years

P.S. Since posting the above, I have now found out that the 43rd was formed in May 1915, so my question is, would they have had their full complement of people in May, and just remained as a 'closed group', so to speak, or would they have started out with less than a full complement and gradually had new recruits added to them?

 

And the follow-up question is: they were based at Thetford/Newmarket/Bury St Edmunds from 18 Sept to 18 Oct 1915,  at Weybourne (3 Miles from Sheringham) in March 1916 and at Sheringham on January 1st 1917 (when they were re-numbered) - does anyone know where they were in between these dates, and also whether a new recruit at end of 1915 would do their basic training with them or somewhere else?

 

Thank you ...

Edited by searching_for_years

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Bordercollie

When the Provisional Battalions were formed between April and June 1915, 2nd and 3rd Line Territorial Force battalions were instructed to post their Home Service men to these units. The intention was to produce units for the Home Army that could focus on training for home defence without the distraction of finding drafts for battalions serving with the BEF or in other theatres. In practice there was much the same turnover in these units as in others. Men might be reviewed by medical boards, judged fit for overseas service and posted to a draft finding battalion. Men who had not agreed to serve overseas might decide to volunteer. Other men might be posted into a Provisional Battalion as a result of medical downgrading or because they had enlisted while too young to serve overseas. In short I don't think you can assume that your grandfather would have joined the battalion in May 1915.

 

There is a War Diary described at this link National Archives War Diaries . The description of the contents includes “3 Provisional Brigade: Royal Field Artillery: 43 Provisional Battalion (1915 Oct - 1916 Mar).” That unit title doesn’t make a lot of sense to me as a Provisional Brigade would have included one Battery RFA and as far as I know there were no RFA battalions. So this might well be the unit you are interested in. Unfortunately the diary has not been digitised and so you would need to visit Kew, pay a researcher to copy it for you or order a copy from Kew (but that will be expensive). The war diary is very unlikely to tell you when your grandfather joined the battalion but it should give you information about where they served.

Edited by Bordercollie
inevitable typos

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searching_for_years
1 hour ago, Bordercollie said:

When the Provisional Battalions were formed between April and June 1915, 2nd and 3rd Line Territorial Force battalions were instructed to post their Home Service men to these units. The intention was to produce units for the Home Army that could focus on training for home defence without the distraction of finding drafts for battalions serving with the BEF or in other theatres. In practice there was much the same turnover in these units as in others. Men might be reviewed by medical boards, judged fit for overseas service and posted to a draft finding battalion. Men who had not agreed to serve overseas might decide to volunteer. Other men might be posted into a Provisional Battalion as a result of medical downgrading or because they had enlisted while too young to serve overseas. In short I don't think you can assume that your grandfather would have joined the battalion in May 1915.

 

There is a War Diary described at this link National Archives War Diaries . The description of the contents includes “3 Provisional Brigade: Royal Field Artillery: 43 Provisional Battalion (1915 Oct - 1916 Mar).” That unit title doesn’t make a lot of sense to me as a Provisional Brigade would have included one Battery RFA and as far as I know there were no RFA battalions. So this might well be the unit you are interested in. Unfortunately the diary has not been digitised and so you would need to visit Kew, pay a researcher to copy it for you or order a copy from Kew (but that will be expensive). The war diary is very unlikely to tell you when your grandfather joined the battalion but it should give you information about where they served.

Thank you, Bordercollie, that's very helpful.

 

It sounds like there was quite a lot of to-and and fro-ing from these Provisional Battalions, then - perhaps that's why they were called 'provisional'? I don't think it's likely that my grandfather did join as early as May 1915, so your comments support what I thought might have been the case anyway. I think he's more likely to have joined up later on in the year, or early 1916. His story was that he had added one year to his age, which would have made him appear to have been 18 in July 1915 - and I'm not convinced that he joined up stright after his birthday, either. I base this on the fact that there's a photo of him, taken (I assess, form how he looks in dated photographs before and afterwards) when he's about 17, still wearing civilian clothes - though he may possibly have an armband on, it's difficult to see because the photo is so damaged. He doesn't look much younger than the earliest photos of him in uniform so I take it this was taken shortly before he joined up, or during the month between attesting and starting. Some of the photos of him in uniform are dated July 1916, i.e. around the time of his 18th birthday - I presume he must have been home on leave then. He had a twin brother, whose service record has survived and who I therefore know signed up just days before their 18th birthday, and there is a family group photo on which they are both in uniform, so I am assuming that my grandfather was home on leave and his brother had just signed up.

 

When he first joined, would he have done his initial training with the provisional battalion, do you think, or elsewhere?

 

I will certainly follow up that war diary you mention - shame it's not yet been digitised (and I'm a long way from Kew) but I'll find a way to get a look at it somehow, even if that takes a while.

 

Thanks again, and any further thoughts you may have based on the above will be very gratefully received!

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Bordercollie

My guess would be that your grandfather would have done his training with the 43rd Provisional Battalion but that is only a guess based on the pressure that the training organisation was under to service the requirements of the BEF.  The pre-war plan had been that the Special Reserve Battalion (usually the 3rd Battalion) in each Regiment would train drafts to send to the Regiment’s Regular Battalions. However, by November 1914 it was recognised that more capacity was needed to train the number of replacements needed by the BEF.  It was considered that the combination of raising the strength of Special Reserve Battalions to 2,600 and relying on Regimental Depots to train 300 replacements would be sufficient to meet the requirements of a Regiment with six battalions in the BEF or other operational theatres. For Regiments with more than that GOCs-in-C were requested to make proposals for providing even more capacity. Against this background I doubt that this training organisation had sufficient capacity to provide training for men not expected to be posted to an operational theatre imminently.

 

The arm band worn in civilian clothes that you mention might be the arm band (see below) issued to men enlisting under the Derby Scheme and transferring to the reserve. You might want to look at the article on the LLT about the scheme.  The timescale of late 1915 and early 1916 that you mention fits with the scheme.

 

For the war diary at the National Archives you could try posting a request in the Documents – Requests and Offers section on this site.

540x360.jpg

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kenf48

Just to note there are currently three separate threads, including this one concerning this soldier:-

 

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/263366-drummer-in-liverpool-regiment-labour-corps/

 

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/268884-location-of-training-camp-for-43rd-provisional-battalion/?tab=comments#comment-2728071

 

I think the answer above satisfies the second query, but to clarify he would have trained with the Provisional Battalion but bear in mind there were insufficient rifles so time on the range was limited and their equipment obsolete.  Contemporary accounts of soldiers on coastal defence in Norfolk/Suffolk also mention route marches, the ubiquitous drill and trench digging as well as the principle purpose of mounting guard on key installations/strongpoints.  

 

Your man would probably add band practice as described in the previous post to that list, which would have kept them busy.  There were real logistical problems in setting up training camps for the New Army recruits who were destined for active service overseas, therefore men in the Provisional Battalions were billeted locally, 'ten or more in a place'.

 

Ken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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searching_for_years
1 hour ago, kenf48 said:

Just to note there are currently three separate threads, including this one concerning this soldier:-

 

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/263366-drummer-in-liverpool-regiment-labour-corps/

 

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/268884-location-of-training-camp-for-43rd-provisional-battalion/?tab=comments#comment-2728071

 

I think the answer above satisfies the second query, but to clarify he would have trained with the Provisional Battalion but bear in mind there were insufficient rifles so time on the range was limited and their equipment obsolete.  Contemporary accounts of soldiers on coastal defence in Norfolk/Suffolk also mention route marches, the ubiquitous drill and trench digging as well as the principle purpose of mounting guard on key installations/strongpoints.  

 

Your man would probably add band practice as described in the previous post to that list, which would have kept them busy.  There were real logistical problems in setting up training camps for the New Army recruits who were destined for active service overseas, therefore men in the Provisional Battalions were billeted locally, 'ten or more in a place'.

 

Ken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for pulling the three threads together here, Ken. I'm just trying to post the right queries to the right bits of the site - and although I had linked the other two threads together I had omitted to link this one.

 

Thanks too for this extra information re likely training, that's really helpful. I'm getting a much clearer picture now of how he probably spent his time. (And I'm sure he would have preferred band practice to some of the other activities, though he was outstandingly efficient at digging over our garden when I was a child!!)

 

Would billets have been more likely than tents/huts? Perhaps this explains why I can't find anything on the internet about this camp in WW1 - the local history site just talks about its use in WW2. But my uncle recalls his father mentioning being at Sheringham so I think we're definitely on the right track here.

 

Would 'ten or more in a place' mean ten or more in one ordinary house belonging to a family/couple? How did they organise that? I know that in WW2 the government issued iron beds to families taking evacuees - there was one at the home of this same grandfather and his wife, for that reason - did they also issue, maybe, camp-beds to homes where soldiers were billetted in WW1? Presumably they packed as many as they could into each bedroom?

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searching_for_years
3 hours ago, Bordercollie said:

My guess would be that your grandfather would have done his training with the 43rd Provisional Battalion but that is only a guess based on the pressure that the training organisation was under to service the requirements of the BEF.  The pre-war plan had been that the Special Reserve Battalion (usually the 3rd Battalion) in each Regiment would train drafts to send to the Regiment’s Regular Battalions. However, by November 1914 it was recognised that more capacity was needed to train the number of replacements needed by the BEF.  It was considered that the combination of raising the strength of Special Reserve Battalions to 2,600 and relying on Regimental Depots to train 300 replacements would be sufficient to meet the requirements of a Regiment with six battalions in the BEF or other operational theatres. For Regiments with more than that GOCs-in-C were requested to make proposals for providing even more capacity. Against this background I doubt that this training organisation had sufficient capacity to provide training for men not expected to be posted to an operational theatre imminently.

 

The arm band worn in civilian clothes that you mention might be the arm band (see below) issued to men enlisting under the Derby Scheme and transferring to the reserve. You might want to look at the article on the LLT about the scheme.  The timescale of late 1915 and early 1916 that you mention fits with the scheme.

 

For the war diary at the National Archives you could try posting a request in the Documents – Requests and Offers section on this site.

540x360.jpg

Ooh, thanks Bordercollie, that's very helpful. I have fiddled around with the processing on my photo of the damaged photo to try to see better whether or not he is wearing an armband - here is my best effort, increasing contrast and definition at the expense of realism, and cropped down to focus on his right chest, lapel and upper arm: image.png.ccc5491a8a129dee98ffbb6fa4512815.png

 

What do you (or anyone else) reckon - is that an armband I see before me??

Edited by searching_for_years
typo

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Jools mckenna
7 minutes ago, searching_for_years said:

Ooh, thanks Bordercollie, that's very helpful. I have fiddled around with the processing on my photo of the damaged photo to try to see better whether or not he is wearing an armband - here is my best effort, increasing contrast and definition at the expense of realism, and cropped down to foocus on his right chest, lapel and upper arm: image.png.ccc5491a8a129dee98ffbb6fa4512815.png

 

What do you (or anyone else) reckon - is that an armband I see before me??

I think I can see a crown, also looks like an armband to me but it is hard to see.

Edited by Jools mckenna

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searching_for_years
4 minutes ago, Jools mckenna said:

I think I can see a crown, also looks like an armband to me but it is hard to see.

That's what I thought but I was wary of seeing what I wanted to see!

 

Thank you!

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kenf48

A billeting Officer would identify homes/locations, local police and civic authorities were also involved some times local arrangements were made and there was local competition.

 

Where men were compulsorily billeted the original other rank rate was over 3 shillings, reduced to 2/6d a night in  September 1915 for the first soldier on a full board basis with a reduced rate of 2/3d for each other soldier.  if it was only a bed the rate was sixpence or less.

 

Ken

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Bordercollie

As you say the photograph is not very clear but I think it is a reasonable conclusion that he is wearing an armband. If the photograph appears to date from around 1915/16 it could possibly be a Derby Scheme arm band.

 

On the question of billeting I was recently reading the diary of Captain James Hyndson of the Loyals relating his experiences from Mons to the First Battle of Ypres. He talks of a company of around 250 men being billeted in a house near Poperinghe built for a family of five! I wonder what payment, if any, was made for that arrangement.

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searching_for_years
6 hours ago, Bordercollie said:

As you say the photograph is not very clear but I think it is a reasonable conclusion that he is wearing an armband. If the photograph appears to date from around 1915/16 it could possibly be a Derby Scheme arm band.

 

On the question of billeting I was recently reading the diary of Captain James Hyndson of the Loyals relating his experiences from Mons to the First Battle of Ypres. He talks of a company of around 250 men being billeted in a house near Poperinghe built for a family of five! I wonder what payment, if any, was made for that arrangement.

Goodness gracious!!! (re the billeting arrangement!)

 

Yes, the photo does appear to date from very late 1915/very early 1916, and initially I wondered what event it had been taken to commemorate. I am now coming round to thinking that it may have been taken as a memento of  his attesting (and giving an age a year older than he really was) under the Derby scheme.

 

He is also wearing a lapel badge which (being smaller) is even harder to make out than the arm-band, but which might, I guess, also be connected in some way. Here's my best effort at photo-editing that bit of the picture:image.png.4e927a973e3bc562148b55485e85adb8.pngIs it a crown? And can anyone tell me what it might signify?

 

Edited by searching_for_years

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Bordercollie

There was a crown design on some war service badges issued to munitions workers and the like but I don't think that is what you are looking at here. Although I can see the crown shape in your photograph I think it might be no more than a trick of the light in the photograph.

download.jpg

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searching_for_years
13 minutes ago, Bordercollie said:

There was a crown design on some war service badges issued to munitions workers and the like but I don't think that is what you are looking at here. Although I can see the crown shape in your photograph I think it might be no more than a trick of the light in the photograph.

download.jpg

Yes, it's a real shame about the terrible state of this photo. It probably contains (or contained) a lot of information. There is definitely a lapel-badge of some sort, on the right lapel, but as you say, what shape it is could just be a trick of the light. There's also a big blowsy flower (possibly artificial) in the buttonhole on the other side.  I'm not aware of his having done munitions etc work but I was wondering whether he might have been in the territorial force as a drummer-boy before he signed up ... but then presumably he wouldn't have needed to attest or whatever, would he, because he'd have already been in.

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JMB1943
15 minutes ago, searching_for_years said:

 There's also a big blowsy flower (possibly artificial) in the buttonhole on the other side.  

 

The other side being the LHS, was the photo taken at a wedding party?

Did he have any brothers/sisters/cousins marrying at about this time?

This May help to date the photo.

 

Regards,

JMB

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searching_for_years
1 hour ago, JMB1943 said:

 

The other side being the LHS, was the photo taken at a wedding party?

Did he have any brothers/sisters/cousins marrying at about this time?

This May help to date the photo.

 

Regards,

JMB

Good question. Not brothers or sisters, for certain, but I'll check cousins ...

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