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James Brown

4 Company Bn structure

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James Brown

This might sound waffle but.....
When did the 4 Company structure of a Bn come into place from the old 8 Company Bn?
Was there a set way of doing this for example A+E, B+F, C+G and D+H?
Or was it "ad hoc" all 4 latter companies distributed where needed?

 

Thank you

James

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ss002d6252
Quote

Was there a set way of doing this for example A+E, B+F, C+G and D+H?

In my experience it's more A+B = A etc.


Which battalion are looking at ? Different units swapped over the company scheme at different times.
 

Craig

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sotonmate

Prior to the 1904 Royal Commission there were 8 Infantry Companies in a Battalion. From 1904 this reduced to the 4 (really 5 if you add the HQ Company) that fought WW1.

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rolt968

The Territorial Force infantry continued the eight company structure until mobilised in 1914. The early pages of some war diaries record how the four companies were formed.

RM

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moggs

I know of at least one which went A+E=A etc.

 

 

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Muerrisch
42 minutes ago, sotonmate said:

Prior to the 1904 Royal Commission there were 8 Infantry Companies in a Battalion. From 1904 this reduced to the 4 (really 5 if you add the HQ Company) that fought WW1.

 

Sincerely sorry to contradict, but:

 

The four company reorganisation  began slowly in 1913 and was only just completed by declaration of war, and then only in the regular infantry. TF infantry were up to a year later, and there were delays also in India.

Commanding Officers had reasonable latitude in implementation, there was no rigid pairing of lettered companies. The most noticeable change was probably the appointment of the four senior colour sergeants to be CSMs, and the four junior to be CQMSs.

 

Sorry also to add that there was no HQ company as such.

 

Company lettering and platoon numbering was prescribed, but units went their own way, with the Foot Guards even more idiosyncratic.

There are several threads on company letters/ numbers elsewhere, but ABCD, WXYZ and PQRS [from memory] have been noted.

 

[I wrote the above because the subject is too important for misinformation to be allowed to sit in plain sight on an authoritative Forum]

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Bordercollie
42 minutes ago, Muerrisch said:

 

Company lettering and platoon numbering was prescribed, but units went their own way, with the Foot Guards even more idiosyncratic.

There are several threads on company letters/ numbers elsewhere, but ABCD, WXYZ and PQRS [from memory] have been noted.

 

 

1/1 Hertfordshires were even more idiosyncratic. They joined 4 Guards Brigade with eight companies lettered A to H, changed to the new organisation while serving with the Brigade and left with four companies numbered 1 to 4 when they were replaced by the newly formed Welsh Guards.

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Ron Clifton

Hello all

 

Muerrisch has summarised the position correctly. As to whether A+E or A+B became A, etc, I think that this was determined by the seniority of all the company commanders, with the four junior ones becoming 2i/cs.

 

It was certainly the case that, of the eight colour sergeants, the senior in each new company became the CSM and the junior became the CQMS. Overall, seniority here would have been less of a problem because the CSM and CQMS both drew the same pay.

 

Ron

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Steven Broomfield

As mentioned, many TF battalions noted the amalgamation of companies in War Diaries and in Battalion Histories. Quite often these were geographic rather than alphabetic - combining two companies from a geographic location rather than A+B, etc (remembering that many 'county' regiments would have drill stations across a large area of the county)

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Ron Clifton

In peacetime, geographical convenience would certainly have been a factor. As a regular commuter to London, I was amused to learn that E Company of the Hertfordshire Regiment had its HQ at Royston, with drill stations at Letchworth, Baldock and Ashwell - all stations I passed through daily.

 

I think that most TF battalions converted from eight companies to four companies immediately before embarking to join expeditionary forces, where peacetime stations would be less significant. Regular battalions returning from India or other overseas stations seem to have made the change with similar timing.

 

Ron

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Bordercollie

The timing of TF battalions conversion to the four company organisation also depended upon when they departed for France. Those that embarked for France as individual battalions in the early months of the war had enough to do preparing for embarkation without the added complication of company reorganisation and so reorganised after arrival in France. 1/1 Hertfordshires embarked on 5th November 1914 but did not reorganise until January 1915.  1/5 Londons (LRB) were quicker off the mark (well they would be wouldn't they.) They also embarked on 5th November 1914 and began their reorganisation on 24th November 1914. 1/14 Londons (London Scottish) embarked on 15th September 1914. They were still on the eight company organisation when they made their stand at Messines and they reorganised in December 1914. 

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James Brown

Thanks for all your early replies.

I know its complicated ...or can be, to deduce which companies "Doubled Up" or as Muerrisch said it depended on seniority of NCO's, availability etc. Or as in TF cases where some men didn't sign up for overseas or weren't fit for overseas etc that would have been a major factor.

RM - yes its the 1/5th and 1/4th Royal Scots Fusiliers Territorials. I'm going to go through the War diaries as there isn't any reference in the RSF History or the 52nd Lowland Div History.

Ive had feedback as well to suggest there wasn't a definitive method "ad hoc" and each Battalion did their own thing to bring them up to strength as soon as possible for training purposes before going overseas....in the 155th brigade case - Gallipoli. Other TF battalions as suggested by Bordercollie would have been pretty much preoccupied with arrangements to go to France and did it there.

With no set programme of restructuring it's going to back to the War diary or Histories

Thanks again for all your feedback

James

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Muerrisch

A small additional point: whereas the newly appointed CSM and the new CQMS were both ranked and badged as colour sergeants [until May 1915] the CSM was awarded a princely exta 6d per day over the CQMS.

 

And a small itch: I think it highly likely that the seniority of the 8 company commanders determined which 4 kept their companies and absorbed a company of one of the 4 juniors [but not inevitable], but this could well be incompatible with the respective seniorities of the 8 erstwhile colour sergeants. Thus it is very likely that some of these senior NCOs needed to move and become CQMS. Whereas we can easily look at each unit case by case regarding the officers [Army List Monthly seniorities, and post amalgamation distribution] we have no such visibility of the NCOs. Thus D company might have a senior commander, but the most junior colour sergeant of all eight. Almost inconceivable that this NCO would become a CSM.

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jnickwilliams

An example of the TA reorganisation would be the 1/2nd London battalion. They went to Malta for training/garrison duty in September 1914 with the 8 Company structure which they retained till they reached Etaples in France in early January 1915. When they had been equipped and started training they reorganised into four double companies (excluding Battalion Headquarters which had 7 officers) as follows: new 'A' Company from the old 'A' and 'B' Companies with a Captain i/c and a Captain second-in-command; new 'B' Coy from old 'C' and 'D' Coys (Capt., and Lieut.); new 'C' Coy from old 'E' and 'D' coys (Capt and Lieut); new 'D' Coy from old 'G' and 'H' coys (Capt and Lieut).Battalion strength at this time was 28 officers and 884 NCOs and men, and one interpreter.

Nick

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Muerrisch

Thank you, obviously short of substantive captains .... the 2 i/c appointment was officially for a captain.

 

Please which officers were HQ?

I ask because I would expect a

Lt Col as CO

A major as 2 i/c or "senior major"

an Adjutant

A Quartermaster Hon Lt or Hon Captain

A medical officer RAMC,

a Machine gun officer

A Transport officer who combined the post with a platoon command responsibility.

 

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Bordercollie
1 hour ago, Muerrisch said:

 

Lt Col as CO

A major as 2 i/c or "senior major"

an Adjutant

A Quartermaster Hon Lt or Hon Captain

A medical officer RAMC,

a Machine gun officer

A Transport officer who combined the post with a platoon command responsibility.

 

Those are the officers included in the 1914 establishment table. The note against the transport officer is "One subaltern of the battalion will act as transport officer." The establishment includes a "horse riding" for the transport officer. That seems to imply that his place was with the transport rather than a platoon. I can see how the roles could be combined in barracks but in the field it seems likely that command of the platoon would fall to one of the platoon's sergeants as it would if there was a shortage of officers.

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Muerrisch
Just now, Bordercollie said:

Those are the officers included in the 1914 establishment table. The note against the transport officer is "One subaltern of the battalion will act as transport officer." The establishment includes a "horse riding" for the transport officer. That seems to imply that his place was with the transport rather than a platoon. I can see how the roles could be combined in barracks but in the field it seems likely that command of the platoon would fall to one of the platoon's sergeants as it would if there was a shortage of officers.

Yes, totally correct.

In fact, even on embarkation for France in mid August 1914, few regular battalions had enough subalterns to command each of 16 platoons, so sergeants were commanding platoons at Mons and Le Cateau, regardless of casualties. A glance at Westlake's transcriptions of every battalion's war diary of the period provides this information. Startling.

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Skipman

Wauchope's History of the Black Watch has this on the 6th Battalion

 

"Early in January, 1915, the eight-company organization of the Battalion was altered to four, the rearrangement being carried out as follows:- G and H companies became No. 1 company under Major J. Wylie. B and D companies became No. 2 company under Captain G. D. Pullar. C and E companies became No. 3 company under Captain W. Alexander. A and F companies became No. 4 company under Captain T . E. Young. Captain L. Gibson was appointed Adjutant, and Major R. Stirling, Royal Army Medical Corps, took over the duties of Battalion Medical Officer, his place being taken by Major W. Haig, Royal Army Medical Corps, before the Battalion went overseas."

 

I think this favours the "Geographical" theory, as "G" Coy was Pitlochry and "H" Aberfeldy.

 

Mike

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Derek Black
4 hours ago, James Brown said:

yes its the 1/5th and 1/4th Royal Scots Fusiliers Territorials. I'm going to go through the War diaries as there isn't any reference in the RSF History or the 52nd Lowland Div History.


If you can find reference to men and their company in newspaper reports from early in their time abroad, as they often use their traditional designations for a while after merger in letters home, then compare them with those that have newer company details on CWGC, you may see a pattern, showing which companies merged.

 

The 5th Black Watch went to France on 1st November, 1914, there's no records of when they reorganised into 4 companies, but it was within a month of landing.


In their case it was a change to four numbered companies: A+B= No.1, B+C= No.2,.... and so on.

Cheers,

Derek.

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Ron Clifton
4 hours ago, Muerrisch said:

Thus D company might have a senior commander, but the most junior colour sergeant of all eight. Almost inconceivable that this NCO would become a CSM.

I don't think he ever would. If he was the most junior of the eight colour sergeants, there would be another in the same double-company who was senior to him and would, therefore, become the CSM. The most junior colour sergeant would then become the CQMS.

 

Ron

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Muerrisch

Ron, having thought more about the matter, and essentially agreeing with you at first blush, I wonder if seniority among colour sergeants was as prescriptive as we think.

COs were autonomous in many matters. As an example, appointment of the [R]SM of a unit pre war was not necessarily by seniority among the quartermaster sergeants [rank] who were certainly the next most senior.

2nd RWF promoted a colour sergeant [Murphy] straight to SM c. 1904, and there is a wonderful group photo showing a shell-shocked Murphy, with colour sergeant badge, sitting as SM next to the CO. King's Regs are explicit: appointment to a post carried promotion to the rank appropriate to the post.

 

It seems at least possible that a rising star NCO could be put over an older and spent man. It would not be the first time. Some anecdotal evidence from early 1914 would be good to have!

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Ken Lees

From the History of the 9th King's In France by E.H.G. Roberts:

 

"Mention should here be made of the fact that shortly before leaving England the old eight company organisation was abandoned, and the new four company organisation adopted, and each new company was divided into four platoons. The change was exceedingly beneficial, as it would have been difficult in the field for a battalion commander to give orders to eight company commanders. More responsibility was thrown on the company commanders, who were at the time senior enough to assume it, and for the first time the subaltern was given a command. For the future he had his platoon which carried much greater responsibility than that previously attached to a half company. It was a fighting unit, and a separate body in which was reflected the work of a good commander."

 

The 1/9th Battalion T.F., referred to here, deployed to France on 12th March, 1915.

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rolt968
4 hours ago, Derek Black said:


If you can find reference to men and their company in newspaper reports from early in their time abroad, as they often use their traditional designations for a while after merger in letters home, then compare them with those that have newer company details on CWGC, you may see a pattern, showing which companies merged.

 

The 5th Black Watch went to France on 1st November, 1914, there's no records of when they reorganised into 4 companies, but it was within a month of landing.


In their case it was a change to four numbered companies: A+B= No.1, B+C= No.2,.... and so on.

Cheers,

Derek.

I looked 1/5 Black Watch up because I had the impression that the reorganisation took place before they landed in France.

 

The war diary says nothing about it. I think my impression may come from Wauchope and may be unintentional on his part. He says nothing about the reorganisation explicitly, but lists the officers, RSM, RQSM and CSMs who entrained for Southampton on 29 October 1914 in the four company structure.

 

RM

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Steven Broomfield

For the sake of completeness, I have just tested my theory that geography might play a part: not that it was simpler to oversee sub-units in closer proximity to one another (pointless once a battalion had been concentrated), but rather that having blokes from closer neighbourhoods might make sense ... and two units I looked at on that basis blow me right out of the water!

 

The 4th (Morayshire) Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders amalgamated as below (after arrival in France in November 1914):

 

A (Tain) & B (Dingwall) - A Coy

C (Munlochy) & G (Alness) - B

D (Gairloch) & E (Ullapool) - c

H (Invergordon) & H (Maryburgh) - D

 

The 4th Battalion, Cameron Highlanders went thus (while at Bedford):

 

A (Inverness) & D (Broadford) - A

B (Nairn) & C (Inverness) - B

E (Fort William) & F (Kingussie) - C

G (Beauly) & H (Portree) - D

 

Now, a quick look at a map of Scotland dispels my theory goes pear-shaped: f nothing else, old D and H Companies of the 4th Cameron both come from Skye while old G Company was 5 miles from Inverness. At the same time, old H Company of the 4th seaforth was located about a mile from B whereas A and H were five miles apart.

 

Ho hum.

 

Incientally, has anyone asked the same questions regarding the disbandment of the surplus Squadrom when the yeomanry went from peacetime 4 squadron to the wartime 3?s

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Bordercollie

Colonel Wylly’s history of the Queen’s Regiment in the Great War records this about the reorganisation of the Regiment’s pre-war TF battalions.

1/4th Battalion on 1st April 1915 at Lucknow

A Company(Croydon) and H Company(Croydon) formed the new A Company

B Company(Croydon) and G Company(Lingfield and Oxted) formed the new B Company

C Company(Crystal Palace) and F Company(Croydon) formed the new C Company

D Company(Croydon) and E Company(Caterham and Godstone) formed the new D Company

1/5th Battalion on 1st May 1915 at Lucknow

A Company(Reigate) and G Company(Dorking) formed the new A Company

B Company(Camberley) and E Company(Farnham) formed the new B Company

C Company(Guildford) and D Company(Guildford) formed the new C Company

F Company(Godalming) and H Company(Woking) formed the new D Company

On the face of it there might appear to have been a nod to peacetime geographical locations but if that was the intention why put the two Guildford companies together and marry up in another company Godalming to the south of Guildford and Woking to the north of Guildford.

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