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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Private Frith


Nick Cansfield

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I'm a newcomer to WW1 research and was pointed in your direction by a friend who thought someone on this forum might be able to help.  My father died a couple of years ago, and amongst his stuff, I found an exercise book with a yellow post it on the front.  The post it says (in my Dads handwriting) "Notebook of a 1st World War soldier.  Given to PC (my Dad) by the son who worked with PC at the time."
 
It is clearly a notebook kept by a PRIVATE R FRITH 86887 whilst he was with the 270th Infantry Battalion.  It then says 219th Brigade School, commencing September 10th 1917.  I've got some information from the Long Long Trail on the regiment/battalion.  I've searched Forces War Records and Ancestry.co.uk, but I'm struggling to find any mention of Private Frith
 
I also have the names of some of the officers who were training him (first page of the exercise book):
 
Commander - Captain Cherry, 28th Manchester Regiment
Squad Drill Instructor - Sgt Dives, N Lancs
Assistant Drill Instructor  Sgt Podwick, 28th Manchester Regiment
Musketry Officer - Captain Barker, Cambridge Yeomenry
PT and BF Instructor - Sgt Rotherham - N Lancs
Supervising Sgt Major - Hogan, G Guards
 
Any pointers would be very much appreciated!  If only I could have asked my Dad for a bit more information...
Huge thanks
Nick
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I don't think the British Army had numbered infantry battalions. They did have numbered infantry brigades, but I'm not sure about a 270th.

Edit. There were 259 British infantry brigades. 

Any possibility of him being Canadian or Australian?

Edited by Dai Bach y Sowldiwr
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3 minutes ago, Nick Cansfield said:

I think a 'graduated' battalion was one for under 19s?

 

It was part of the training process for new recruits, not all were young


Craig

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26 minutes ago, Dai Bach y Sowldiwr said:

I don't think the British Army had numbered infantry battalions. They did have numbered infantry brigades, but I'm not sure about a 270th.

Edit. There were 259 British infantry brigades. 

Any possibility of him being Canadian or Australian?

 

Could be - all I have to go on is this!

Frith.jpg

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From the long long trail (LLT) adjunct to this forum:  


Graduated Battalions

 

1.  For soldiers aged between 18 years and 5 months and 19 years;

 

2.  Who were in medical categories A4, B1 and C1.

 

For comparison with your exercise book details see: 

 

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/soldiers/a-soldiers-life-1914-1918/training-to-be-a-soldier/syllabus-of-infantry-training/

 

Also from the LLT:

 

52nd (Graduated) Battalion KOYLI.
Up to 26 October 1917, this was known as 270th Graduated Battalion and had no regimental affiliation. Before that it had been 91st Battalion of the Training Reserve and up to September 1916 had been the 15th (Reserve) Battalion of the York & Lancaster Regiment. A training unit based at Danbury, it came under command of 219th Brigade in 73rd Division. In March 1918 when 73rd Division was broken up it went to 208th Brigade of 69th Division at Doncaster. By May 1918 it had moved to Welbeck and in August 1918 went on to Clipstone Camp.

 

NB.  Many of the young soldiers that followed this particular timeline were too late for the Armistice but were sent to Germany to serve out a set period as part of the Army of Occupation in the British (Rhine) sector around Cologne.  Perhaps he served there. 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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A look at Ancestry failed to turn up a MIC with that regimental number, so he doesn't appear to have served overseas with it (as is to be expected?). There are 550 or so Friths in Ancestry's medal rolls records, but not many R Friths; consideration of their service numbers might yield a clue, if only to discard some/all as possible candidates.

 

Caveat: he may not have served overseas at all, of course, especially if his fitness was under par.

Another caveat: neither Ancestry nor myself are exactly infallible (!), nor are Ancestry's collections comprehensive, I believe. 

 

But, just in case: 

 

M/339628 Robert Henry Frith, ASC

06612 Robert Francis Frith, Hampshire Regt

26225 Reuben Stanley Frith, RGA

61882 Raymond James Frith, Suffolk Regt

91810 Roland Leslie Frith, DLI

25078 Robert Frith, DLI

17336 Robert Edward Frith, King's Liverpool

527115 Richard Frith, E. Yorks

240152 Reginald WC Frith, Gloucesters

 

Cheers, Pat

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  • Do I understand that these Brigade Schools were officer training
  • Does the notebook say what the writer did at the Brigade School
  • Does the notebook say what happened to the writer after he left the school
  • Surely there are some clues in the book as to who the writer was.
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1 minute ago, corisande said:
  • Do I understand that these Brigade Schools were officer training
  • Does the notebook say what the writer did at the Brigade School
  • Does the notebook say what happened to the writer after he left the school
  • Surely there are some clues in the book as to who the writer was.

 

Not obviously officer training, I don't think.  At the top of the front page he calls himself Pr R Frith, which I don't think could mean anything other than Private.   The second page is headed 'How to fall in on Parade' (Sgt Maj Hogan) and on page 3 after the first paragraph there is a second heading 'Sanitation Hygiene' by Sgt Dives.  It's like this all the way through to page 119 where Sgt Padwick was teaching 'The Service Prismatic Compass'.  There is then a lovely drawing of a 'Loop Hole' and then, finally, an index.  No comment on anything other than the notes he took in the lessons, and no further clues after the final lessons recorded on using the compass and scouting.  :-(

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1 hour ago, Dai Bach y Sowldiwr said:

I don't think the British Army had numbered infantry battalions. They did have numbered infantry brigades, but I'm not sure about a 270th.

Edit. There were 259 British infantry brigades. 

Any possibility of him being Canadian or Australian?

 

Not Canadian. CEF had only 260 numbered Batt'ns.

His handwriting is beautiful!

Edited by RNCVR
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Could it be "Pr R Frith" with the Pr being short for Peter or Pioneer?

 

Mind you not  had any luck with either of those. 

 

I can confirm only 1 soldier from CEF with that number and he is not a Frith.

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OK.

270th Graduate Battalion, later 52nd (Graduate) Battalion KOYLI, in 219th Infantry Brigade. 

I think  his handwriting is suggestive  of a youngster.

Maybe too young for overseas service.

Edit: Only 8 male P* Friths born in England and Wales from 1895 to 1902 inclusive, so not an insurmountable challenge.

Edit Edit: I now see he's R Frith.     29 males to choose from in same time frame.

Edited by Dai Bach y Sowldiwr
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My candidate for Capt Cherry; John William Cherry:  

I'm having a job pinning him down otherwise (no medals, not on 5th Manchesters Gallipoli officers list in War Diary). So perhaps an older, ex-reservist junior officer who would have suited a job in a training unit.

Acknown 

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14 minutes ago, Acknown said:

Capt Cherry; John William Cherry:  

 

What I looked for, but could not find, was his attachment to this unit in LG. There is an entry for his return to Manchester Regt

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9 hours ago, Dai Bach y Sowldiwr said:

OK.

270th Graduate Battalion, later 52nd (Graduate) Battalion KOYLI, in 219th Infantry Brigade. 

I think  his handwriting is suggestive  of a youngster.

Maybe too young for overseas service.

Edit: Only 8 male P* Friths born in England and Wales from 1895 to 1902 inclusive, so not an insurmountable challenge.

Edit Edit: I now see he's R Frith.     29 males to choose from in same time frame.


Dai, it’s extremely unusual for you to not grasp what I relayed above, that the Graduated Battalions were a specific category for soldiers aged between 18 and 5 months and 19, so of course he was a youngster?  The Young Soldier Battalions were a younger category still.  Many of these battalions were converted en-masse into Service Battalions in 1919 and sent out to Cologne to take their place as units of the Occupation Army, thus freeing up battle-hardened units to return home for demobilisation.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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11 hours ago, corisande said:
  • Do I understand that these Brigade Schools were officer training
  • Does the notebook say what the writer did at the Brigade School
  • Does the notebook say what happened to the writer after he left the school
  • Surely there are some clues in the book as to who the writer was.


As mentioned above the 270th Graduated Battalion was a training unit based at Danbury, it came under command of 219th Brigade in 73rd Division. In March 1918 when 73rd Division was broken up it went to 208th Brigade of 69th Division at Doncaster.

 

The 219th Brigade School was purely a training establishment where instructors could be consolidated to run an efficient training programme on a rota for the trainees within the Brigades units.  It enabled economies of scale and the most efficient use of training resources and the specific skills and experiences of the available instructors, such as the officer in charge of musketry and the SNCO in charge of Physical Training and Battle Fitness exercise.

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I think 'Supervising Sgt Major Hogan' might well be 8111 CSM WE Hogan, Grenadier Guards (could only find his 1914 Star medal roll entry, this is his rank as given on it).

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8 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:


Dai, it’s extremely unusual for you to not grasp what I relayed above, that the Graduated Battalions were a specific category for soldiers aged between 18 and 5 months and 19, so of course he was a youngster?  The Young Soldier Battalions were a younger category still.  Many of these battalions were converted en-masse into Service Battalions in 1919 and sent out to Cologne to take their place as units of the Occupation Army, thus freeing up battle-hardened units to return home for demobilisation.

Sorry Frogsmile,

For the last few days, I've been otherwise engaged, only dipping in intermittently on my smartphone and must have missed your comments.

I was only opining on what I saw in the image.

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28 minutes ago, Dai Bach y Sowldiwr said:

Sorry Frogsmile,

For the last few days, I've been otherwise engaged, only dipping in intermittently on my smartphone and must have missed your comments.

I was only opining on what I saw in the image.


Totally understood Dai, I know it’s easy to get distracted and I was merely relaying the details contained in the excellent, long long trail and already mentioned earlier in the thread by Craig and Nick Cansfield.

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19 hours ago, DavidOwen said:

Could it be "Pr R Frith" with the Pr being short for Peter or Pioneer?

 

Mind you not  had any luck with either of those. 

 

I can confirm only 1 soldier from CEF with that number and he is not a Frith.

Yep - could be!

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Thanks Guys!

 

Can I just test some logic?  If the Graduated Battalion was for people between 18 years and 5 months and 19 years, presumably this would have been somewhere around September 1917 when the notebook first starts.  Assuming this is the case, then this would be somewhere around September 1898 and March 1899.  So - picking up all the R Frith's that were born in 1898 and 1899 (according to Ancestry.co.uk) would narrow the options down to 20.  Presumably I can automatically take any females out of the list of options which would further reduce it down to 13.

 

Can I make any assumptions about geography?  Is it as obvious to assume that he would have been more likely to have been born in the top half of England?  In which case, I might be able to knock out the ones born in Croydon, Hampshire, Colchester and Lincoln.  This could further reduce the search to 9 men, born in Wigan, Prescot, Bakewell, Leeds, Sheffield, Huddersfield, Chorley, Wigan and West Derby (in Lancs).  

 

No idea what to do next, but it feels like progress!!

 

 

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Your logic seems impeccable, and you have to start somewhere. We know where he was, we know his rank (Pt) and we know he was a conscript.  We also know men who were called up retained a degree of geographic affiliation, though the unit they were called up to may have been located elsewhere.

 

If we assume he was  at least aged eighteen and five months when he began training with the Battalion, in April 1918 he would have been well in the frame for being posted to the BEF following the German Spring Offensive. In April the Government approved sending young men aged eighteen and a half with six months training in the UK to France, we can assume he was rising nineteen in April 1918.

  In a draft he could have been posted to almost any Regiment from the Base and would have received a different number and this would be the number associated with any medals for overseas service, not that of his training battalion.

 

As the notebook was given to your father by his son he clearly survived so it might be worthwhile looking at the 1939 Register to find an R. Frith with a son local to where your father worked. I'm guessing your father remained local, or is that too simple?

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1 hour ago, Nick Cansfield said:

 

Can I make any assumptions about geography?  Is it as obvious to assume that he would have been more likely to have been born in the top half of England?  In which case, I might be able to knock out the ones born in Croydon, Hampshire, Colchester and Lincoln.  This could further reduce the search to 9 men, born in Wigan, Prescot, Bakewell, Leeds, Sheffield, Huddersfield, Chorley, Wigan and West Derby (in Lancs).  

 

I wouldn't make the assumption he was dealt with locally. Men would be sent wherever the army wanted them to go.

 

Craig

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On 26/11/2020 at 12:10, Nick Cansfield said:

The post it says (in my Dads handwriting) "Notebook of a 1st World War soldier.  Given to PC (my Dad) by the son who worked with PC at the time."

 

Where in the country did your dad work ? Do you know roughly when he was given it ?


Craig

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