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keithfazzani

Numerals? What are they

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keithfazzani

Reading copies of the RWK Journal there are monthly lists of comforts sent to the troops. Amongst the usuals, socks, cigarettes, curry powder (substantial quantities) there are listed on more than one occasion “Numerals” . Does anyone have any idea what these may be? 

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kenf48

It would appear  they are just that, numerals, frequently advertised in contemporary newspapers in the context of ‘soldiers requisites’,

e.g ‘ For Soldiers Caps, Badges, Numerals, Accessories &c ‘.or  Webb Bros ‘Christmas Presents for Soldiers and Civilians’ included 

‘RE Cap Badges Numerals Buttons Whips Canes Large Stock of Military Requisites’ including gloves,socks, shirts, khaki handkerchiefs etc.

 

There is  a court report from Plymouth where a soldier broke into a church and tried to pawn the proceeds during cross examination the soldier stated he wanted one shilling for the numerals from his tunic, the pawnbroker gave him sixpence the Bench said, “These numerals are Government property” - “No sir we have to buy many of them”...

Western Morning News October 3 1916

So a valuable and tradeable commodity, though perhaps a bit utility as a Christmas present!

Ken

 

 

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keithfazzani

Thanks Ken. Just appeared a little incongruous alongside cigarettes and curry powder.

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PhilB

As few soldiers had actual numbers on their uniform, do we assume that numerals includes all badges?

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Steven Broomfield
3 hours ago, keithfazzani said:

cigarettes and curry powder.

 

Well ... should clear the sinuses.

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kenf48
3 hours ago, PhilB said:

As few soldiers had actual numbers on their uniform, do we assume that numerals includes all badges?

 

I don't think so, the numerals are treated separately to badges. 

 

This example is from the Daily Record 4 March 1916, (John Andersons Grand Spring Display Royal Polytechnic Ltd). Such advertisements are commonplace.

 

Screenshot 2020-03-08 at 12.52.06.png

(BNA)

 

There is an interesting sequel to the story on the 3rd October, cited above.

 

It was reported in The Western Evening Herald  of the 27th October the pawnbroker, William Wakeham found himself in front of the Magistrates for purchasing the 'numerals'.  It was a consequence of the statement made by the defendant in the earlier case where he stated (to Wakeham) "Did you not lend me 1s on my shoulder numerals", to which Wakeham allegedly replied, " No I bought them from you for 6d and you took them from your tunic in the shop".  He later retracted this statement and said the defendant had left them on the counter and he'd given him sixpence to get rid of him.  He had subsequently sold the numerals.  Challenging the the police evidence his solicitor stated it was part of this man's business to sell the numerals, and he had purchased dozens of pairs to sell in his shop. 

The magistrates took a slightly different view and although this was the first case of this kind before them they said, "There might be a lot of traffic in this kind of thing, but it was not right, and the military authorities clearly wished the public to understand it was against regulations." They fined  Wakeham five shillings.

 

Ken

 

 

 

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PhilB

I can only think of numbers on territorials’ uniform epaulettes and surprised there would be a brisk market in them!

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squirrel

Some TF units were able to buy a range of applicable badges and buttons from their regiment's tailor. They were the property of the individual once purchased.

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FROGSMILE
Posted (edited)

I have a feeling that for some reason the word 'numerals' had become a generic term for shoulder titles within the badges and regalia trade.  I say this because when first introduced for the SD uniform even regular battalions had numerals for their cloth shoulder titles, in addition to those of the Volunteer Battalions (VBs).  It wasn't until 1907-08 and the introduction of gilding metal titles that the regulars dropped them altogether whilst at the same time they became a strong identifying feature of the Territorial Force units.  See this thread for examples: https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/233111-pre-war-cloth-shoulder-titles-rank-and-insignia-photos/page/20/  It was therefore the numeral that identified the unit within the regiment, thus becoming a key identifier.  This became increasingly so in the early years of WW1 (i.e. prior to Jan 1916).

 

Cloth ST.jpg

Norfolks with numeral.jpg

Edited by FROGSMILE

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PhilB

The advert in post #6 mentions “in cloth and metal” and is from early 1916, which supports your post, Frog.

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FROGSMILE
5 hours ago, PhilB said:

The advert in post #6 mentions “in cloth and metal” and is from early 1916, which supports your post, Frog.


Thank you, Phil.

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