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Robert Heaford Dempster 10th Btn Sherwood Foresters attd HQ Signal Section - Info re HQ Signal Section Please


JillHempsall
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Private Robert Heaford Dempster 102045 10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters Notts & Derby

 

Private Dempster died on 4th November 1918 and was killed near Mormal Forest. The CWCG records shows: 10th Bn. attd. H.Q. Signal Sect., Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment)


De Ruvigny's Honour details that he was in the Signal Section acting as Company Signaller.

 

My question is this: if I want to find the War Diary, what would I look under? Would he be part of the 10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters, or would the HQ Signal Section have had their own diaries? I have already found the 10th Btn Sherwood Foresters diary for November 1918, but just wanted to understand whether or not HQ Signal Section would have their own diary of events?

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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  • JillHempsall changed the title to Robert Heaford Dempster 10th Btn Sherwood Foresters attd HQ Signal Section - Info re HQ Signal Section Please
  • 1 month later...

Hello Jill

 

The Signal Section would be part of the Battalion HQ staff so would be recorded in the Battalion War Diary. The 10th War Diary is quite sparse; however, the Battalion History describes that day in some detail. It would appear that the Germans were putting down a heavy barrage and the 'linesmen' were out constantly fixing the broken wires - perhaps he was killed doing that?

 

By the way he would have been posted to the Sherwood Foresters around March 1918 judging by his service number.

 

cheers

Mike

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Jill, just for context, each infantry battalion had its own signal section under a junior officer (lieutenant) - the ‘signals officer’, who was assisted by his deputy, a sergeant.  The officer and sergeant attended a special course run by the army before the war, but in divisional or corps schools during the war when demand was greater.  The two would then be certificated to show that they were qualified to instruct others in the special skills necessary.  At that time the battalion signallers (as they were colloquially known) used signalling skills focused largely in three areas, Semaphore (using flags), Morse (using heliographs, lamps (at night), or wire connected keys) and Field Telephones (using voice, but requiring the hazardous laying of cable from end to end). The individual signallers were trained by their officer and sergeant in peacetime, but during the war new men might attend one of the formation schools dispersed across France and Flanders.
 

There were also more specialised signallers provided by the Royal Engineers Signal Service, who as well as providing those skills, were increasingly beginning to use early wireless radio transmission for higher formation headquarters.  However, at the fighting end of the Army it was the infantry signallers who were critical to the to and fro of battlefield communication.  The signals section was further sub-divided into small detachments, usually of just two, or three men, that were each allocated to the individual companies (Invariably A,B,C,D) of the battalion.  The individual signallers were each generally distinguished by an armband half blue and half white, as well as a qualification badge of crossed flags in brass or cloth.

 

 

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4F8860F8-F6A3-4DF6-9B1E-3005F87E51D1.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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3 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

Jill, just for context, each infantry battalion had its own signal section under a junior officer (lieutenant) - the ‘signals officer’, who was assisted by his deputy, a sergeant.  The officer and sergeant attended a special course run by the army before the war, but in divisional or corps schools during the war when demand was greater.  The two would then be certificated to show that they were qualified to instruct others in the special skills necessary.  At that time the battalion signallers (as they were colloquially known) used signalling skills focused largely in three areas, Semaphore (using flags), Morse (using heliographs, lamps (at night), or wire connected keys) and Field Telephones (using voice, but requiring the hazardous laying of cable from end to end). The individual signallers were trained by their officer and sergeant in peacetime, but during the war new men might attend one of the formation schools dispersed across France and Flanders.
 

There were also more specialised signallers provided by the Royal Engineers Signal Service, who as well as providing those skills, were increasingly beginning to use early wireless radio transmission for higher formation headquarters.  However, at the fighting end of the Army it was the infantry signallers who were critical to the to and fro of battlefield communication.  The signals section was further sub-divided into small detachments, usually of just two, or three men, that were each allocated to the individual companies (Invariably A,B,C,D) of the battalion.  The individual signallers were each generally distinguished by an armband half blue and half white, as well as a qualification badge of crossed flags in brass or cloth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jill, not invariably A B C D, but certainly usually. At full strength each company had four signallers.

 

Below is a substantial piece of research by Martin Gillott.

 

A survey of the BEF's first 8 Divisions plus 19th Inf Bde plus 29th Div: a total of 111 Regular Infantry Battalions and 1 TF Bn

94 Battalions used A B C D

7 Battalions used 1 2 3 4 all Foot Guards and, curiously 1st Bn Gordon Highlanders and 1st Bn KOSB (later changed to A B C D)

6 Battalions used W X Y Z

1 Battalion used RF B C LF 1st Bn Scots Guards

1 Battalion used RF F G LF 2nd Bn Scots Guards

1 Battalion used King's 2 3 4 1st Bn Grenadier Guards

1 Battalion used A B C I 1st Bn Rifle Brigade

1 Battalion used A B C H 1st Bn Somerset Light Infantry

In summary, stripping out the Foot Guards, and the single TF Battalion (leaving 103 Regular Line Infantry Battalions):

91% used A B C D

5% used W X Y Z

2% used 1 2 3 4

2% used A B C plus another letter (not D)

% Numbers not exact due to rounding. 

Some curiosities:

1. 1st Bn ABCD and 2nd Bn WXYZ fits in all but one example. The anomaly is the Essex Regt whose 1st Bn was WXYZ and 2nd Bn was ABCD. I can only imagine that the 2nd Bn (UK based) had snatched ABCD before 1st Bn (Mauritius) reorganised and took WXYZ to differentiate from 2nd Bn.

2. KOSB and Gordon Highlanders using 1234 when their sister battalions were using letters. The 1st Bn KOSB using 1234 comes from an early (1914) diary entry. By time the Battalion deployed (Gallipoli) it was using ABCD. It raises the possibility that other overseas Battalions used 1234 before coming into line.

3. 1st Bn Rifle Brigade's I Coy has something to do with history. I used to know but have forgotten

4. 1st Bn Somerset Light Infantry's H Coy. Started the war as D Coy and by First Ypres was H Coy. Curious to know why. I can only think it was so full of Special Reservists they renamed it

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I’m afraid that was most definitely a misuse of a word on my part and ‘usually’ A,B,C,D, is what I’d meant, but failed to make clear, as I think most will realise.  Hopefully Jill will forgive me, and I’m sure she will find the explanation of company designations fascinating and relevant. 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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  • 4 weeks later...

Hello Frogsmile, Mike Briggs and Meurrisch. Thank you so much for all the information you have provided me with! I've had a break with my research over the last couple of months, but hadn't forgotten my request for information on this page. I will now digest everything and will hopefully be able to finish my research on this particular soldier. Only another nine on the war memorial to go.

Edited by JillHempsall
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  • 5 months later...

Good morning again. I'm back on the trail of Robert Dempster. 

 

Mike Briggs, you mentioned in your info from 21st January that the 10th Battalion diary was sparse, but the Battalion HQ diary had a lot of detail. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to ask this on the forum, but could you give me some guidance as to finding the Battalion HQ diary on ancestry please? I seem to have failed miserably in my search efforts! Many thanks for any help you might be able to offer.

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Hi,

On Ancestry the Brigade HQ diary for November 1918 starts here. If you wanted more than just a couple of pages or so, it would be much easier to download from the National Archives (free after a straightforward registration). It is here. The Division HQ diary for the period is here'

There is help on reading map references here'

Regards
Chris

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Morning Jill

Here are the relevant pages from the Battalion History written by Lt WN Hoyle just after the war but no published until 2003! - sorry they are out of focus I have a dreadful phone camera, but will try and scan later.

cheers

Mike

20210722_090309.jpg

20210722_090316.jpg

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