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Alyx

Thomas Blackman 1873-1915

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Alyx

Hello

My great grandfather Thomas Blackman, (1544 Sapper T Blackman 2nd Home Counties Field Coy. Royal Engineers) was from Hastings in Sussex (like me!!) and died in March 1915 and is buried in Wulvergem, Belgium.  I took my Dad to lay flowers on the grave some years ago.

 

On his service records it says he was a member of the Cinque Port Rifles in the decade before WW1. (Hastings being the lead Cinque Port town this sounds right)

 

I wondered if any of you experts would know anything about them ?

Would it have been a reason why he went to serve in France in December 1914, despite having a wife and young children at home ?

 

I've always wondered why he was in the Royal Engineers and not the Sussex Regiment ?

 

He signed up in Bexhill, the next town over from our home town - but there was a recruitment office in Hastings - so must have done that for a reason ?.

Did you sign up to a particular regiment when you volunteered - or were you just told where you would be going ?

Many thanks AlyxThomasBlackman.jpg.2d851812938d20b4d4b6b245d56bcaaf.jpg

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FROGSMILE
Posted (edited)

I think he must have changed to the Royal Engineers Territorial Force at some period after the TF was first created in 1908.  Before 1908 the auxiliary forces (part-time citizen soldiers) infantry, artillery and cavalry were divided, with the infantry and artillery auxiliaries being part of the ‘Volunteer Force’ (VF) and the cavalry auxiliaries a part of the ‘Yeomanry’.

The Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers (infantry) had been aligned with their local regular regiment, the Royal Sussex Regiment, as a ‘Volunteer Battalion’ (VB) in 1881.
 

The TF brought all these auxiliaries together under one organisation for the first time, but when it was created it was not compulsory for men who were Volunteers, or Yeomanry to join this new force because the terms and conditions of service were different. Basically the VF units were technically stood down and men enlisted from scratch again if they wished to join the TF, signing on under the new terms and conditions.

 

 I imagine that your forebear might have thought that he was getting a bit old for running around as an infantryman and that he would enjoy the chance to do something more interesting and gainful as a Royal Engineer.

 

When war was declared all the men of the TF were “embodied” (mobilised) by a specific act of Parliament and ordered to report to their “mobilisation stations” (usually local barracks) and await further orders.

 

Another possibility is that he had left the VF completely at some point before the war, but that when war was declared he felt a moral obligation to sign back up as an auxiliary soldier, but this time with the new TF.

 

Men who joined early in the war were generally able to choose which regiment or corps they wished to join.  However, the supply of men did not meet demand and so conscription was introduced in 1916 and from that point men were called up for “General Service” and sent wherever they were needed in the interests of the service and the nation.

 

However, men who joined the TF voluntarily continued to be administered by the Territorial Force County Associations and served under separate pay and conditions to the rest of the Army.

 

For your interest I enclose an image of a cap badge of the Cinque Ports Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.

EC429137-1E81-4C19-9260-DE040D07DA44.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE

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Grovetown
20 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

 

Another possibility is that he had left the VF completely at some point before the war

 

 

Bingo.

 

He was a direct entrant to the Royal Engineers, attesting on October 13th 1914.

 

In answer to the question: "Do you now belong to, or have you ever served in the ... Territorial Force, the Imperial Yeomanry, the Volunteers etc...": he states: "Not now. Previously in Cinque Port Rifles, Volunteer Force".

 

21 hours ago, Alyx said:

 

I've always wondered why he was in the Royal Engineers and not the Sussex Regiment ?

 

 

Aged 40 at the outbreak of war, he wouldn't have been prime infantry material (although men of his age and older did enlist in the infantry at this time). As a tradesman - he  variously describes himself as a painter/ house painter/ decorator and, upon testing by the army, was found to be a "good painter" -  it's conceivable he was  attracted to/ pointed towards the RE..

 

The RE encompassed every conceivable professional trade - carpenters, glaziers, bricklayers, plasterers, electricians etc etc not to mention painters - found in civilian life, and he would have fitted the bill, especially at his age.

 

Also  2nd (Home Counties) Field Coy was based at Tower Road West, St Leonards, just on the other side of Hastings from where he lived, so it was quite a local unit. 

 

Cheers,

 

GT.

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FROGSMILE
19 minutes ago, Grovetown said:

 

Bingo.

 

He was a direct entrant to the Royal Engineers, attesting on October 13th 1914.

 

In answer to the question: "Do you now belong to, or have you ever served in the ... Territorial Force, the Imperial Yeomanry, the Volunteers etc...": he states: "Not now. Previously in Cinque Port Rifles, Volunteer Force".

 

 

Aged 40 at the outbreak of war, he wouldn't have been prime infantry material (although men of his age and older did enlist in the infantry at this time). As a tradesman - he  variously describes himself as a painter/ house painter/ decorator and, upon testing by the army, was found to be a "good painter" -  it's conceivable he was  attracted to/ pointed towards the RE..

 

The RE encompassed every conceivable professional trade - carpenters, glaziers, bricklayers, plasterers, electricians etc etc not to mention painters - found in civilian life, and he would have fitted the bill, especially at his age.

 

Also  2nd (Home Counties) Field Coy was based at Tower Road West, St Leonards, just on the other side of Hastings from where he lived, so it was quite a local unit. 

 

Cheers,

 

GT.


Good detective work GT. That fits with what I imagined might be the case.

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