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Remembered Today:

Home guard uniform in 1914 ??


Simon Cains

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Hi, can anyone identify this uniform please ?  The photo title I was sent says "Home Guard 1914" although I think they would be called "local volunteers".  The gentleman is believed to be my great-great grandfather who was living in York and would be age 60 in 1914 !   We hadn't heard of any military career from any other sources, but on this picture he has 3 stripes.  Any hints gratefully received.  Thanks very much

William Wise Home Guard 1914.jpg

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He’s a ‘Paid Pensioner Recruiter’ (PPR) Sergeant I think.  They wore a plain blue tunic, or later, blue patrol uniform and a Royal Cypher cap badge of the reigning sovereign.  They were attached to each District, two Districts per Regional Command, Northern, Eastern, etc.  His badge is for Edward VII.
 

The PPR’s bosses were the ‘District Inspectors of Recruiting’, who had all been commissioned from the ranks and were either former quartermasters, or former riding-masters.  In effect the entire recruiting organisation of those days was run by retired servicemen with the PPRs paid a cash bounty for each man that they recruited.

 

His rank is Staff Sergeant (3-stripes with crown above) and the crossed swords suggest that he had previously been, either, a member of the Army Gymnastics Staff (AGS), or perhaps had been in the cavalry and qualified as an Instructor of Fencing and Gymnasia (IF&G).  Both appointments wore the crossed swords above stripes, but below crowns.  No other appointment wore the badge so he has to have been one of those two.

 

What you are thinking of with regards to the ‘Home Guard’ (along with ‘local volunteers’ a WW2 term) is the National Reserve, one of two auxiliary home defence organisations of WW1, one full time, the National Reserve (NR), and one part-time, the Volunteer Training Corps (VTC). It was the NR that wore the sovereigns coat of arms badge GvR topped by a crown (similar to the Norfolk Yeomanry).
 

Both auxiliary organisations evolved and reformed during the course of the war and changed their names, the NR becoming the Royal Defence Corps (still full time) and the VTC becoming the Volunteer Force (still part-time and effectively recreating the old style Volunteer Battalions of the regular regiments).

 

NB.  The old boy in your photo has the typical look of a PPR.  Whoever he was he had long service in the Army, but the odd thing is the absence of any campaign medals and I can’t answer why that might be.  It is odd.  However, it does make the AGS more likely as his origin because they were a small and elite group based in Aldershot and did not deploy on operations until WW1.

 

F4C3089B-7B74-4F96-BFE1-3A7ABDCE929B.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Thank you so much, that is a hugely detailed account, I don't know where else I could have found this.  It is not the typical army position that would be described in books and websites, it would only be in very specialist sources.  And you gave me the answer in just one hour, what can I say ??!!  I am not sure he can be  my great-great grandfather because he had a civilian job all his life, so he must be a different relative.   Anyway whoever he is, he had a very interesting army career, so well worth digging on.   I will pass this on to all my family who are interested.  Thanks again.  Simon

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2 hours ago, Simon Cains said:

Thank you so much, that is a hugely detailed account, I don't know where else I could have found this.  It is not the typical army position that would be described in books and websites, it would only be in very specialist sources.  And you gave me the answer in just one hour, what can I say ??!!  I am not sure he can be  my great-great grandfather because he had a civilian job all his life, so he must be a different relative.   Anyway whoever he is, he had a very interesting army career, so well worth digging on.   I will pass this on to all my family who are interested.  Thanks again.  Simon


I’m glad to assist.  I strongly recommend that you pursue the AGS line of inquiry initially, it seems the most likely given the absence of medal ribbons.

 

There were two types of PPR, those based at each regimental depot, who wore their regimental insignia along with a bullion arm badge, and those at district level based in the headquarters that each had, e.g. York, Edinburgh, Dublin, London, etc. who wore the cypher cap badge.  The latter city had a central office at Scotland Yard.  The men at the depot picked up passing trade from men living locally.  The men in the Districts picked up greater volumes as they tended to be within large metropolitan areas.

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Hi, thanks again for your suggestion about the AGR.  I found a file of long service awards for the "Gymnastic Staff" in the National Archives, starting in 1902, but he isn't there.  Also found a history book of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps "Fight to Fit" , but the Google books preview shows no list of names.  I have also emailed the Royal Army Physical Training Corps Museum, but I guess they can't research until lockdown is eased more.   Can you suggest where else I could search for his name William Wise ?  Sorry this is all before the Great War, so maybe off topic.  Thanks.

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11 minutes ago, Simon Cains said:

Hi, thanks again for your suggestion about the AGR.  I found a file of long service awards for the "Gymnastic Staff" in the National Archives, starting in 1902, but he isn't there.  Also found a history book of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps "Fight to Fit" , but the Google books preview shows no list of names.  I have also emailed the Royal Army Physical Training Corps Museum, but I guess they can't research until lockdown is eased more.   Can you suggest where else I could search for his name William Wise ?  Sorry this is all before the Great War, so maybe off topic.  Thanks.


Perhaps one of the forum’s excellent genealogical detectives might be able to trace him, but you’d best start a new thread in the soldiers and units section of the forum, and include in your inquiry all his personal details that you have.  Home town as well as name, etc. the more information that you can give the better.  
 

The other possibility for his crossed swords badge would be former service in a cavalry regiment as an Instructor of Fencing and Gymnasia (IF&G), as I mentioned above.

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On 29/06/2020 at 20:48, Simon Cains said:

The gentleman is believed to be my great-great grandfather who was living in York and would be age 60 in 1914 !

 

On 29/06/2020 at 21:28, FROGSMILE said:

He’s a ‘Paid Pensioner Recruiter’ (PPR) Sergeant I think.  They wore a plain blue tunic, or later, blue patrol uniform and a Royal Cypher cap badge of the reigning sovereign.  They were attached to each District, two Districts per Regional Command, Northern, Eastern, etc.  His badge is for Edward VII.
 

The PPR’s bosses were the ‘District Inspectors of Recruiting’, who had all been commissioned from the ranks and were either former quartermasters, or former riding-masters.  In effect the entire recruiting organisation of those days was run by retired servicemen with the PPRs paid a cash bounty for each man that they recruited.

 

Just tried a quick search of the 1911 Census of England and Wales using terms like "York" + "Recruiting" "Recruiter" Serjeant" "Sergeant" and the only effective match is a 41 year old Thomas Clowes, a Royal Marine.

Kelly's Directory of N & E Ridings of Yorkshire, 1913. [Part 2: York & Hull] only shows a Royal Navy Recruiting Office in York - which is stated to be run by Colour-Serjeant Thomas Clowes.

An Army recruiter might be based in one of the Depots associated with the city, but for now isn't readily coming up on the census.

 

If this isn't your great-great-grandfather, then is there any other reason to believe this gentleman has any connection to York?

 

Cheers,

Peter

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11 hours ago, PRC said:

 

 

Just tried a quick search of the 1911 Census of England and Wales using terms like "York" + "Recruiting" "Recruiter" Serjeant" "Sergeant" and the only effective match is a 41 year old Thomas Clowes, a Royal Marine.

Kelly's Directory of N & E Ridings of Yorkshire, 1913. [Part 2: York & Hull] only shows a Royal Navy Recruiting Office in York - which is stated to be run by Colour-Serjeant Thomas Clowes.

An Army recruiter might be based in one of the Depots associated with the city, but for now isn't readily coming up on the census.

 

If this isn't your great-great-grandfather, then is there any other reason to believe this gentleman has any connection to York?

 

Cheers,

Peter


You’ve done a great job as per usual Peter.  I think that the PPR would probably have operated from the Army HQ in York, although the PPRs were on the establishments of the Districts, each of which had their own HQs too, so he might have been in one of them.  
 

If he’s not a PPR, the only other possibility that I can think of is a Barracks Warden, as they too were paid pensioners (but not recruiters) and who also wore the ‘garrison staff’ cypher cap badge stipulated at the time. Barracks Wardens worked for Barracks Masters (retired quartermasters) who were responsible for the barracks infrastructure and its maintenance, keeping things running if and when the units occupying them were deployed on operations.  
 

Photos of such paid pensioners are very rare, as you might imagine, but their insignia and elderly appearance generally marks them out. Either, Recruiting, or Barracks maintenance were the two, uniformed but entirely separate roles for which they could be recruited.

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Thanks everyone.  The name written on the photo is William Wise , Home Guard 1914.  My great-great grandfather was a James William Wise, born 1854 who is easy to trace through the censuses, certificates  etc, mostly living in York, but he had no recorded link with the army, unless he was doing some sort of weekend territorial army duty as well as his day jobs ?  So I wondered if this was actually another relative by the name of William Wise, ( who would probably also be living in Yorkshire)  although I haven't found any relative called William Wise after trawling through censuses etc on Ancestry.  The photo was passed down to another great great grandson of James William Wise with the understanding that this is him, J. 
W. Wise.  If any of you are looking through Ancestry for James William Wise you will see a "hint" linking to my tree  Cains family tree4 , and see all his details on that tree.  It would be interesting if this gentleman in the uniform is at least some relation to me.    Sorry none of this has much to do with the Great War.

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10 minutes ago, Simon Cains said:

Thanks everyone.  The name written on the photo is William Wise , Home Guard 1914.  My great-great grandfather was a James William Wise, born 1854 who is easy to trace through the censuses, certificates  etc, mostly living in York, but he had no recorded link with the army, unless he was doing some sort of weekend territorial army duty as well as his day jobs ?  So I wondered if this was actually another relative by the name of William Wise, ( who would probably also be living in Yorkshire)  although I haven't found any relative called William Wise after trawling through censuses etc on Ancestry.  The photo was passed down to another great great grandson of James William Wise with the understanding that this is him, J. 
W. Wise.  If any of you are looking through Ancestry for James William Wise you will see a "hint" linking to my tree  Cains family tree4 , and see all his details on that tree.  It would be interesting if this gentleman in the uniform is at least some relation to me.    Sorry none of this has much to do with the Great War.


A really important point to keep in your mind is that the crossed swords insignia, for a man aged 60 in 1914, is a badge being worn with pride by an old professional soldier, and unlikely for someone with a part-time military background.  Also, “Home Guard” is a term from WW2 that was coined by Winston Churchill.

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Just wondered if you can make out any useful detail on the belt buckle ?  Seems to be something standing on a crown ?? Thanks.

William Wise Home Guard 1914 buckle.jpg

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59 minutes ago, Simon Cains said:

Just wondered if you can make out any useful detail on the belt buckle ?  Seems to be something standing on a crown ?? Thanks.

 


It’s a general service Union Clasp adopted in 1874 to replace the previous regimental clasps.  The inscription around the circlet is DIEU ET MON DROIT = God and My Right, the motto of British Sovereigns.  The brown leather belt with it was a new pattern to complement the bandolier equipment of 1903 and was provided for staff sergeants normally issued on active service with sword and pistol rather than a rifle.  A standard belt for a SNCO of his rank, above sergeant, but below warrant officer class one.

2C6DE2DF-9144-4EDC-A683-4921934672B2.jpeg

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I guess I have to chuck this one in the mix, but either the age seems all wrong or if this is the man who was photographed in 1914 then he had had a very hard life!

 

On the 1911 Census of England and Wales there is a 38 year old William John Wise, born Chatham, Kent who was shown as the married head of the household at 22 Chestnut Avenue, Queens Road, Hull. His personal occupation is shown as “Soldier. Recruiting Sergeant. 3rd Bn. East Yorkshire Regiment.” In the column ‘Industry or Service with which worker is connected’ he has added “Attached for duty to Recruiting Staff, Hull

 

He lives there with his wife of four years, the 32 year old Emma, born Hartley Wintney, Hampshire. The couple have had one child so far, the 3 year old Emily, born Richmond, Yorkshire.

 

I can’t see any likely surviving Service records for him in the WO96 & WO97 Series co9vering pre-war service.

 

On the civil records side, the birth of a William John Wise, mothers’ maiden name Lambell, was registered with the Civil Authorities in the October to December quarter, (Q4), of 1872 in the Medway quarter of Kent.

 

The baptism of a William John Wise, born 7th November 1872, took place at St. Paul, Chatham, Kent on the 15th January 1873. Parents were William John, a Cooper, and Harriet Mary. The family lived at 1 Luton Road.

https://www.freereg.org.uk/search_records/581844c6e93790ec8b0ac584/william-john-wise-baptism-kent-chatham-1873-01-15?locale=en

 

On the 1881 Census of England & Wales there are two households recorded at 4 Robert Street, Woolwich, Kent. The older one is an Andrew & Grace Lambell. The younger one is headed up by the 28 year old John Wise, a married Cooper, born Sheerness, Kent. Living with him is his wife Harriett, (27, born Woolwich) and their children ‘John’, (8, born Chatham), Elizabeth, (6) and Martha, (2) – both born Bermondsey, Sussex – and Thomas R., (4 months, born Woolwich). Tellingly, while the relationship to the head of the family is shown as son or daughter for each of those children, the original entry prefixed each one with the word “Grand” which has then been crossed through. I suspect this is talking about their relationship with Andrew Lambell.

 

On the 1891 Census the 18 year old William Wise, a General Labourer born Chatham, is shown living with grandparents Andrew & Grace and still at 4 Robert Street.

 

There is no obvious match for him on the 1901 Census of England & Wales.

One possible reason for this appears on the Anglo Boer website – according to them a W J Wise, (no rank or service number transcribed) appears on the 1st Battalion (Princess of Wales’ Own) Yorkshire Regiment Roll for the Queens South Africa Medal and the Kings South Africa Medal. Unfortunately I couldn’t replicate that information on FindMyPast or Genes Reunited – perhaps someone will have better luck with Ancestry.

 

That’s both good and bad news. It would explain the absence of William John Wise from England & Wales at the end of March 1901 and establish a military link with Yorkshire – but leaves us with the problem of no ribbons on his chest in the photograph.

 

The marriage record also throws a small spanner in the works. The marriage of a William Wise, (no middle names) to an Emma Bailey was recorded in the Hartley Wintney district in Q1 of 1907. If the couple had any children post the 1911 Census then it would most likely they moved to Leicestershire as there are three children born between 1914 & 1919 and registered in the Barrow upon Soar District with surname Wise, mothers’ maiden name Bailey.

 

On the 1939 National Register a William J Wise, a married School Attendance & Junior Employment Officer (Retired), born 7th November 1872, was recorded as the first person in the household at 11 Phoenix Terrace, Hartley Wintney, Hampshire.

The second person, and almost certainly his wife is the married woman Emma Wise, born 17th April 1878 and carrying out Unpaid Domestic Duties.

The third person is a married woman, Emily Parrott, born 7th February 1908, and also carrying out Unpaid Domestic Duties. (Looks like it was subsequently amended to 11th February 1908).

Fourth and last was a John F. Parrott, born 22nd September 1931, and still at school.

 

The most likely death was recorded in Q3 of 1951 at the age of 78, when the death of a William J. Wise was recorded in the Aldershot District. The 1951 Probate Calendar records that a William John Wise of 31 Cricket Green, Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, died on the 27th September 1951. Probate was granted to an Emily Parrott, married woman.

https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/Calendar?surname=Wise&yearOfDeath=1951&page=2#calendar

 

The most likely reason for the apparent age discrepancy is that the picture was taken much later than 1914, but that’s’ just a guess on my part.

But for now the Kent born man remains just a possibility.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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A great deal of that seems to fit quite well even when allowing for the discrepancies Peter, although the absence of medal ribbons is still a conundrum.  It this William Wise’s military record still exists, and he is actually our man, then there should be a record of his attendance at the School of Gymnasia at Aldershot, along with his certification as an Instructor.  On the surface a photograph later than 1914 would seem quite feasible, but in such circumstances it would make no sense his still wearing a cap badge of the cypher of King Edward VII.  It feels like you are very close to the answer in this case, but just as you’ve implied there are a few odd aspects that require resolution.  Nevertheless, I sense that you are very close indeed.

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8 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

On the surface a photograph later than 1914 would seem quite feasible, but in such circumstances it would make no sense his still wearing a cap badge of the cypher of King Edward VII.

 

Turning that thought on it's head, does that not incease the likelihood the picture was taken pre-1914 and even pre-George V ascending to the throne on the 6th May 1910. At which point it starts to call into question the other information like Home Guard, (already on v. dodgy ground) and the identification as William Wise and starts to take us into family legend territory. But may still be William Wise and hopefully there is some sort of family resemblance to his descendants.

 

Cheers,

Peter

 

P.S - any idea how quickly the rebranding to the new King Emperor might have taken place?

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8 hours ago, PRC said:

 

Turning that thought on it's head, does that not incease the likelihood the picture was taken pre-1914 and even pre-George V ascending to the throne on the 6th May 1910. At which point it starts to call into question the other information like Home Guard, (already on v. dodgy ground) and the identification as William Wise and starts to take us into family legend territory. But may still be William Wise and hopefully there is some sort of family resemblance to his descendants.

 

Cheers,

Peter

 

P.S - any idea how quickly the rebranding to the new King Emperor might have taken place?


Yes Peter, I agree that the cypher badge presents a sticky conundrum that can be interpreted variously.  I would tend to lead towards the photo being closer to the reign of the sovereign concerned.  New insignia were generally issued quite quickly, but more tricky is how many individuals were reluctant to change, preferring to portray an old soldier look by individually delaying replacement.  Nevertheless, for a recruiter, or barracks warden who spent time in the public domain, it was much more apparent if they imposed delay and so more likely to draw imposition by a superior officer.

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Good morning, Thank you to everyone who is working on this, sounds as if it is an interesting puzzle.  I have found a list of Army Gymnastic Staff long service awards and good conduct medals from the National Archives, it sounds as if this gentleman should be on there but there is no William Wise.  There is unfortunately no header page or introduction to the document.  I have also just heard back from the Army Gymnastics museum, they can start looking through their records this week, so I will keep you posted on that.  Thanks again, Simon.

gymnastic staff record details.jpg

gymnastic staff only.pdf

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2 hours ago, Simon Cains said:

Good morning, Thank you to everyone who is working on this, sounds as if it is an interesting puzzle.  I have found a list of Army Gymnastic Staff long service awards and good conduct medals from the National Archives, it sounds as if this gentleman should be on there but there is no William Wise.  There is unfortunately no header page or introduction to the document.  I have also just heard back from the Army Gymnastics museum, they can start looking through their records this week, so I will keep you posted on that.  Thanks again, Simon.

 

gymnastic staff only.pdf 3.09 MB · 1 download


Thank you Simon, it is starting to look as if the man in the photo might have been a regimentally badged assistant instructor formerly and with pride in his achievement (certification) continued to wear his badge in retirement.  If so his military record will of course most likely be either cavalry or infantry.  It seems unlikely to me that the AGS records of all those certificated will have survived.

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Thank you.  In that case I think I need to identify him as a relative first, through my family tree, to get all his dates etc, and then look for a matching soldier.  So far I don't actually have any William Wise on my tree.  I will let you all know if I do find a likely candidate.  Thanks again everyone.

 

I had a long reply from the Army Museum of Physical Training, which I think agrees generally with what you have all said on this forum.  ( He would actually have been my great-great grandfather, I am not old enough to have had an elder Grandfather in 1914 ! ) :-

 

 

It is a difficult one, largely because our records for AGS personnel between 1875 and the years immediately prior to WW1 are practically non-existent, which is just the period when your Grandfather would have served. Old members of the AGS were recalled to the colours in 1914 to make up for a shortfall of instructors, though your Grandfather might have been considered too old by this point. There is no mention of a J.W or W Wise on the lists of AGS personnel in WW1, also he is not wearing the AGS crossed swords and crown cap badge so he would not have been serving in the AGS at this point. I am not familiar with the cap badge he is wearing, nor of the position of Paid Pensioner Recruiter, does it allude to that or another Regiment?
 
The arm insignia offers a further clue as to his past service. The crossed swords were worn by members of the AGS, but by the WW1 era, also by Assistant Instructors (who had passed the preliminary PT courses and assisted the unit's resident AGS instructor but had not yet passed the final courses necessary to transfer into the AGS). This indicates that your Grandfather had either been in the AGS or served as an Assistant Instructor at some point. Members of the AGS after sometime in the 1880's were distinguished from assistants by adding the crown above the crossed swords, though this was not always done and it is sometime difficult to distinguish between the crown and that worn by Staff Sergeants.
 
I think we can safely conclude that your Grandfather served as a PTI of some description at an earlier point in his career, whether AGS or not is difficult to say conclusively, though by comparison to other photos from this period I would be inclined to think possibly yes. Having left the Army but re-enlisted in this new role during WW1 he would have relinquished the AGS cap badge but probably would have been allowed to retain the swords on his sleeve. If you have any further information on the gentleman it might shed further light on his career.
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On 08/07/2020 at 14:37, Simon Cains said:

Thank you.  In that case I think I need to identify him as a relative first, through my family tree, to get all his dates etc, and then look for a matching soldier.  So far I don't actually have any William Wise on my tree.  I will let you all know if I do find a likely candidate.  Thanks again everyone.

 

I had a long reply from the Army Museum of Physical Training, which I think agrees generally with what you have all said on this forum.  ( He would actually have been my great-great grandfather, I am not old enough to have had an elder Grandfather in 1914 ! ) :-

 

 

It is a difficult one, largely because our records for AGS personnel between 1875 and the years immediately prior to WW1 are practically non-existent, which is just the period when your Grandfather would have served. Old members of the AGS were recalled to the colours in 1914 to make up for a shortfall of instructors, though your Grandfather might have been considered too old by this point. There is no mention of a J.W or W Wise on the lists of AGS personnel in WW1, also he is not wearing the AGS crossed swords and crown cap badge so he would not have been serving in the AGS at this point. I am not familiar with the cap badge he is wearing, nor of the position of Paid Pensioner Recruiter, does it allude to that or another Regiment?
 
The arm insignia offers a further clue as to his past service. The crossed swords were worn by members of the AGS, but by the WW1 era, also by Assistant Instructors (who had passed the preliminary PT courses and assisted the unit's resident AGS instructor but had not yet passed the final courses necessary to transfer into the AGS). This indicates that your Grandfather had either been in the AGS or served as an Assistant Instructor at some point. Members of the AGS after sometime in the 1880's were distinguished from assistants by adding the crown above the crossed swords, though this was not always done and it is sometime difficult to distinguish between the crown and that worn by Staff Sergeants.
 
I think we can safely conclude that your Grandfather served as a PTI of some description at an earlier point in his career, whether AGS or not is difficult to say conclusively, though by comparison to other photos from this period I would be inclined to think possibly yes. Having left the Army but re-enlisted in this new role during WW1 he would have relinquished the AGS cap badge but probably would have been allowed to retain the swords on his sleeve. If you have any further information on the gentleman it might shed further light on his career.

 

That is an unusually good reply from a museum, one of the best that I have seen.  It's unsurprising that the writer has not heard of the Paid Pensioner Recruiters, there were not many of them (two per District I think) and they were categorised as ‘Garrison Staff’ (similarly to Barracks Wardens), which grouping is who the cypher cap badge was intended for.  Interestingly the instructors of Musketry at the School of Musketry were obliged to wear the same badge during the era when the Brodrick Cap was in vogue (much to their chagrin), because it was decided for a period that they too were Garrison Staff, and I strongly suspect that the AGS were obliged similarly (i.e. compulsorily), but as their daily working dress was gym kit, images of them in Brodrick Caps would be akin to rocking horse excrement.  As soon as the Brodrick was replaced in 1905 then the two schools returned to their previous, corps cap badges.

To me the circumstantial, and uniform and insignia based evidence now points towards a former regular soldier of either, cavalry, or infantry who had qualified as an assistant instructor, and who at the time of the photo (which must have been 1905+ due to his cap) was employed as either, a Paid Pensioner Recruiter, or a Barracks Warden.

A final thought, is that he might be AGS (albeit his name unknown by the museum) on some sort of long service around 1905 when the forage cap was introduced, but the cypher badge not yet discontinued by them and the School of Musketry (SofM).  There were Inspectors of Gymnasia at the regional Commands at some point, but I'm fairly sure that they were commissioned officers rather than staff sergeants as in the subject photo.  To show you how the SofM were wearing the Garrison Staff cypher cap badge during Edward VII short reign, I enclose some photos of their warrant officer instructors wearing it.

 

 

 

Wallingford1.png

F3C6FCAC-BB41-4358-9F4B-9223C6A0CD4C.jpeg

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I looked at some later photos which are definitely my g-g-grandfather James William Wise from around 1937, and it certainly does look like the man in uniform.  But I have researched his life and there is no missing period when he might have done army service. Age 17 footman in York. Age 23, marriage, working as a valet in York. Age 27, moved to London with the family, working as a butler. Age 37 back in York, working as an assurance agent.  Age 47 working as a caretaker and house porter in York. Age 56 ( 1911) under-house steward at a private asylum in York.  I could buy all the birth certificates of his children to check his occupation then, but already I have no gaps longer than 9 years.  His jobs certainly involved some kinds of uniform, so I wasn't sure to begin with if if the photo even was an army uniform.  I hope he wasn't wearing this under false pretenses ?  All very strange.james william wise various pictures.pdf

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The other photos do look like the same man. If he was 56 in 1911 then that could match the approximate age of the man in uniform PLUS the royal cypher badge on his cap. Given that he appears to have been variously employed as a steward and caretaker, doesn’t that make Barrack Warden (as suggested earlier by Frogsmile) a stronger possibility? Or a steward in a mess or club associated with the barracks in York? I was thinking of something along the lines of the Corps Of Commissionaires (or whatever they’re called?). Not sure what they look like now (if they still exist) but they certainly used to adopt a quasi-military uniform, so maybe a locally employed club or mess steward might also have been required to wear a uniform like the one in the photo.

As for his stripes and crossed swords, could they be explained by an earlier period of service in the Volunteers?

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The rank that he wears is that of a staff sergeant, and at the time only a relatively small number proportionately were more senior, as warrant officers.  This implies long service.  He also wears the uniform well, as if someone very familiar with it (think of TV actors who wear uniform and clearly haven’t a clue).  This man looks the part, and there is nothing about the photo that suggests masquerade, or larking about.  Either it’s not the same man or something significant is being missed. 

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  • 6 months later...

Hi.

The cap badge is Ev11R and he is wearing a Warders uniform belonging to the (MPSC) Military Prison Staff Corp formed in 1901. now the MPS Reg’t.

Civilians  were recruited as gate keepers etc and to support the military staff.

 

mike

 

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On 23/01/2021 at 21:03, Solent said:

Hi.

The cap badge is Ev11R and he is wearing a Warders uniform belonging to the (MPSC) Military Prison Staff Corp formed in 1901. now the MPS Reg’t.

Civilians  were recruited as gate keepers etc and to support the military staff.

 

mike

 


Well done Mike, I’m confident that you are correct.  The cap badge on its own was misleading, as it was a common type for a number of garrison staff (static infrastructure) type organisations, but the many buttoned tunic and dark leather belt together confirm your identification of a military provost staff SNCO.  I enclose a rare photo of a military prisons governor and staff from just a few years before, where they wear the previous pattern of cap that was replaced by the one in this thread in 1905, as you can see, apart from the old style caps the uniform is the same.

4BE23CF3-EEA3-46A2-9A8A-15217D459112.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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