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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Promotion of soldiers


rm1664
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Hi everyone, just make a quick post to ask a question I cant seem to find an answer to online. I've recently been doing some research into a soldier who joined the army before ww1 (potentially in 1909) and served the whole war with his same battalion (from what I can tell). What is confusing me is the fact that for the whole war and his roughly 5 years of prior service he was never promoted to a NCO, was this common and does anyone have any ideas why this soldier was never promoted? Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks  

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Some further details about the soldier in question may assist other members find out something for you. His full name, address, siblings names, trade etc can all help to build a bigger picture as to whether he did remain in the ranks or potentially had been promoted and subsequently returned. Without a name ,regiment and preferably his service number its hard to suggest a way forward for you.

 

Simon

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Yes.  Length of service does not equate to the capacity for promotion.  It is balanced out by the considerable numbers of men talent spotted and promoted up the NCO route-or commissioned up-through the war.  The usual first step up the ladder would be promotion to Lance Corporal-but unpaid. This could lead on to LCPL-paid-etc. But the first rung had an implicit element of choice- he could have been reverted back or reverted back "at his own request". There was no shame in doing this nor did it seem to hinder promotion again during the war- I have a local casualty,Thomas Samuel Gayes,who reverted back from LCPL at the beginning of the war while a regular soldier with The Border Regiment.  In time, he went forward to Sergeant until commissioned in 1917-and killed in action as a Captain with 11th Border Regiment in 1918.

  During the war,surviving regular privates would likely have been given at least the opportunity to step up, given the losses- but it was by no means forced.

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His name was Charles George Hawkes serving with the 1st East Lancashire regiment no.10021, his MIC states that he went to France with the battalion on 22/8/14 and was awarded the bar to his 1914 star. I believe he was born in in Brighton Sussex in 1885 and on the 1911 census is recorded as abroad with the military. I just thought it was strange that the apparently went through the whole war without any apparent promotion as on his MIC he is listed as only a private.

 

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His MIC wouldn't show any potential promotions/demotions, simply the rank at the time of his awards, many things could have happened between times which his service record would perhaps shed some light on if it survived.

 

Simon

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A good many efficient men chose not to be promoted, preferring not to have responsibility for others beyond what was expected as a comrade.  A good example is the famous Private Frank Richards, who despite pre-war regular service in India, several awards for gallantry, and the respect of his officers, remained a private.

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As I recall Frank Richards said that he turned down promotion mainly because as an NCO he would have been burdened with incessant parades when out of the line.  While as a signaller he was responsible for keeping the signallers' billet clean and tidy and apart from that his time was his own when out of the line.  He also told the story of being in a party ordered to enter a house and dispose of any enemy inside with the bayonet.  They knocked a panel out of a door making space for one man to crawl into the house.  The old soldiers in the party then had just about convinced the young NCO in command of them that it was his duty to be first to enter the house when an officer appeared and ordered Frank to go first.  Frank appears to have taken the view that being an NCO was a mugs game.  

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16 minutes ago, Bordercollie said:

As I recall Frank Richards said that he turned down promotion mainly because as an NCO he would have been burdened with incessant parades when out of the line.  While as a signaller he was responsible for keeping the signallers' billet clean and tidy and apart from that his time was his own when out of the line.  He also told the story of being in a party ordered to enter a house and dispose of any enemy inside with the bayonet.  They knocked a panel out of a door making space for one man to crawl into the house.  The old soldiers in the party then had just about convinced the young NCO in command of them that it was his duty to be first to enter the house when an officer appeared and ordered Frank to go first.  Frank appears to have taken the view that being an NCO was a mugs game.  


Yes, that pretty much reflects Frank’s old soldier persona I think.  Certainly that was my perception too.  I also knew soldiers like him during my time with 1RWF.  One was the battalion sign writer and served till retirement as a Fusilier.  That was stopped within a decade because of the Treasury trying to reduce the numbers obtaining a pension (qualifying at 12-year point).  Anyone who was not a Corporal at the 9-year point was required to depart.  It was the end of an era.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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