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Help with identification of RGA officers in photo


Colin M
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The attached photo is of my grandfather, Percy Stanley Muddell, who served on the Western Front with the RGA. He was with the 122nd Siege Battery until early 1918 and then the 525th Siege Battery until his demobilisation, with a brief posting as Adjutant for the Right Group Heavy Artillery XVII Corps (66 Brigade?) in August 1918. I'm no expert on uniforms, but it appears the group are all officers. Percy was commissioned as 2nd Lt on 29/9/15, rising eventually to Acting Major, and was demobilised in 1919, so I guess this dates the photo between late 1915 and early 1919.

 

It's a very long shot I know, but maybe someone out there might recognise one of the officers in the photo as a relative or someone they are researching? My grandfather is second from the left in the back row. Any information will be gratefully received. 

 

Thanks, Colin M.1722942752_PercyinRGAuniformwithunknowngroupofofficers600dpi.jpg.8e52ec9ee56db943d3feff722581f8e3.jpg

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In this photo you do not say which one is Percy. There is a Captain seated centre, surrounded by 2nd Lieutenants. None of these men wear medal ribbons which puts an end date on the photo. Percy was one of the 2nd Lts, then photo predates promotion to Lt. That was on what date ?  [edit gazette says 1/7/16] It looks to me like a UK studio photo so I am thinking this is 1915 or 1916.

 

longLongTrail tells me 122 SB went to France 18/7/16.

 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962
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They are indeed all artillery officers as is evidenced by their plain collar grenades in bronze, which did not have the scroll beneath that was added in the 1920s.  Several if not all of them have the miniature ‘T’ beneath that badge that denotes a Territorial Force (auxiliary army) officer.

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5 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

‘T’ beneath that badge that denotes a Territorial Force (auxiliary army) officer.

I suggest this is a newly commissioned batch of 2nd Lts, perhaps Sussex RGA as was Percy ?

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11 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

I suggest this is a newly commissioned batch of 2nd Lts, perhaps Sussex RGA as was Percy ?


Yes, I believe so, but with their instructor, a captain, seated front and centre.  All the rest are indeed 2nd Lieutenants.  All lieutenants (2nd and full - the British do not use 1st like the Americans), are collectively termed subalterns.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Thanks Frogsmile and Charlie962 for the very quick response! 

 

As you surmised, Percy was indeed from the Sussex RGA Territorial Force. He was commissioned as 2nd Lt on 29/9/15 and became Lt on 1/6/16, so as you surmise the photo is most likely taken between those dates when he was a 2nd Lt.

 

If, as you suggest, the Captain might be an instructor then I can add more information. Percy's blue Officer's Record of Services book states that he attended "Siege Artillery training at Horsham Siege School" in March 1916 when he was 2nd Lt and "Signalling training at V Army Signalling School, B.E.F." in December 1916 when he was a Lt.  So the studio setting is probably the usual course attendees and instructor photo, taken in March 1916.

 

As ever, the detective skills of forum members astounds me - thank you! Now, if we could only put some names to faces.......................!!!!

 

Colin M.

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6 hours ago, Colin M said:

Thanks Frogsmile and Charlie962 for the very quick response! 

 

As you surmised, Percy was indeed from the Sussex RGA Territorial Force. He was commissioned as 2nd Lt on 29/9/15 and became Lt on 1/6/16, so as you surmise the photo is most likely taken between those dates when he was a 2nd Lt.

 

If, as you suggest, the Captain might be an instructor then I can add more information. Percy's blue Officer's Record of Services book states that he attended "Siege Artillery training at Horsham Siege School" in March 1916 when he was 2nd Lt and "Signalling training at V Army Signalling School, B.E.F." in December 1916 when he was a Lt.  So the studio setting is probably the usual course attendees and instructor photo, taken in March 1916.

 

As ever, the detective skills of forum members astounds me - thank you! Now, if we could only put some names to faces.......................!!!!

 

Colin M.


Colin I think that your deductions that it is probably a course photo are entirely sound.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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As a long shot, I was looking at Sussex RGA officers, as I see that 122 Siege Battery was formed with  a draft of Sussex RGA (T) men including  3 Sussex RGA T officers ... and noted that  J G G Birkett, (John Guy Giberne Birkett ) was a Sussex RGA (T) officer.. 2Lt 1914 and later RGA Captain - he was a well known Rugby player .. I think this 'might be him.. from a  1922  image [Harlequins] but am not sure...  but might  be the RGA (T) Captain in this photo?  or is that fanciful?  I see that W H F Grinsted, a Captain in 1915 with Sussex RGA was later commanding 122 Siege in France.. but cannot find a picture of him yet.. and William Percy Riley [comm Sussex RGA July 1915] was later 122 Siege Bty battery captain.. My guess is that this is not  a course photo but first officers of 122 Siege Bty when forming.. commanded by a Captain, soon to be a/Major.. with other promotions on the way.. 

 

 

Screenshot 2021-01-13 at 23.47.25.png

Edited by battiscombe
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20 minutes ago, battiscombe said:

As a long shot, I was looking at Sussex RGA officers, as I see that 122 Siege Battery was formed with  a draft of Sussex RGA (T) men including  3 Sussex RGA T officers ... and noted that  J G G Birkett, (John Guy Giberne Birkett ) was a Sussex RGA (T) officer.. 2Lt 1914 and later RGA Captain - he was a well known Rugby player .. I think this 'might be him.. from a  1922  image [Harlequins] but am not sure...  but might  be the RGA (T) Captain in this photo?  or is that fanciful?  I see that W H F Grinsted, a Captain in 1915 with Sussex RGA was later commanding 122 Siege in France.. but cannot find a picture of him yet.. and William Percy Riley [comm Sussex RGA July 1915] was later 122 Siege Bty battery captain.. My guess is that this is not  a course photo but first officers of 122 Siege Bty when forming.. commanded by a Captain, soon to be a/Major.. with other promotions on the way.. 

 

I do believe that you’re right.  The resemblance is certainly uncanny otherwise.

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13 hours ago, battiscombe said:

As a long shot, I was looking at Sussex RGA officers, as I see that 122 Siege Battery was formed with  a draft of Sussex RGA (T) men including  3 Sussex RGA T officers ... and noted that  J G G Birkett, (John Guy Giberne Birkett ) was a Sussex RGA (T) officer.. 2Lt 1914 and later RGA Captain - he was a well known Rugby player .. I think this 'might be him.. from a  1922  image [Harlequins] but am not sure...  but might  be the RGA (T) Captain in this photo?  or is that fanciful?  I see that W H F Grinsted, a Captain in 1915 with Sussex RGA was later commanding 122 Siege in France.. but cannot find a picture of him yet.. and William Percy Riley [comm Sussex RGA July 1915] was later 122 Siege Bty battery captain.. My guess is that this is not  a course photo but first officers of 122 Siege Bty when forming.. commanded by a Captain, soon to be a/Major.. with other promotions on the way.. 

 

 

Screenshot 2021-01-13 at 23.47.25.png

Thanks for the excellent detective work Battiscombe!! I'd put money on it being the same person.

 

Birkett is not mentioned by name in my grandfather's personal war diaries, but then not all the men he served with are. But names that do continually crop up in his diaries are his commanding officer Major W.F.H. Grinsted M.C. and William Percy Riley M.C. (later Capt), both of whom attended the 122nd SB dinners in London in 1925 and 1928, along with my grandfather (see a separate thread by me - 122nd Siege Battery RGA dinners 1925 and 1928).

 

Colin M.

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Here is Birkett Dec 1915 at the time of his marriage, courtesy FindmyPast and Illustrated Sporting News:

934304161_GWFSussexRGABirkettphoto.JPG.475463dfc8868e50a449a291cb0a57b9.JPG

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4 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

Here is Birkett Dec 1915 at the time of his marriage, courtesy FindmyPast and Illustrated Sporting News:

 

 

A good find Charlie.  I don't know if it's because he seems to have been caught mid conversation, or utterance, but his jawline now seems different to the man in the group photo.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Birkett was a bigger man, (Harlequins 3rd Line) I think, than the man seated in the middle. Birkett was commissioned 2Lt Sussex RGA late 1914.

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10 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

Birkett was a bigger man, (Harlequins 3rd Line) I think, than the man seated in the middle. Birkett was commissioned 2Lt Sussex RGA late 1914.

 

Yes that makes sense, so not the man we thought he was.  It just goes to show how a moustache and receding hairline can encompass the appearance of so many men at that time.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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yes, Birkett is doubtless  a red herring but that face just caught my eye..

 

I would be interested to find pics of Major William Frank Harrison Grinsted  and William Percy Riley,  if only  to rule them out, as both Sussex TF and known to have served with Muddell later... no luck yet

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