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Remembered Today:

Phillips: Soldier in an army band


folkestone_jack

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I've researched a few members of my family who served in the Great War in Aden, France and India at TNA and got some good results, but I'm stumped on this one...

The photograph of an army band (illustrated) shows one of my great-great uncles (surname, Phillips) in an army band. Sadly there is no one left alive in the family to tell me which one he is, but I wondered if the uniform and close ups of badges give any indication of the unit they belonged to?

If it helps, closer examination of the drum appears to show the word 'Africa' which I assume is a past battle honour and it is possible that the bottom right hand corner dates this to 1917 (the writing appears to have faded really badly and is barely discernible) but I'd hate to swear to that date!

The Phillips family came from Camberwell, South London if that has any bearing on the unit... sadly the 1918 absent voter list for Camberwell doesn't appear to have survived (that was my last hope before this appeal).

In summary, I'm stuck... so any suggestions would be most welcome!!

post-1-1109768025.jpg

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Try to get 'in close' on the bass drum/side drums. They will have a bigger regimental crest ... may make ID easier.

Cap badge ... Fusiliers??? But which lot?

Des

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Jack,

If your software will let you, change the scanned picture from colour to greyscale. It often increases the contrast when pictures have faded and yellowed, and might make it easier to pick details out. No promises - and I can't help with the details of the photo - but worth a try?

Adrian

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Looks like it could be Northumberland Fusiliers to me. A bit more about them on my website at:

http://battlefields1418.50megs.com/regiment011.htm

Another possibility is Royal Welsh Fusiliers - but I don't think the 'flames' of the 'grenade' badge are right for that? David above might be able to comment further on that one.

The photo also looks like it was taken in France.

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The men at backrow 1st left and second row 1st left are holding an instrument known as a Tenor Cor.

This instrument has valves and is played with the right hand fingering with the left hand up the bell. This leads me to believe that this is likely not to be a regular battalion band who would have French Horns (fingered on levers with the left hand with the right hand up the bell).

Many TF bands were made up of Brass Band players who exchanged the Tenor (Sax)Horn of the brass band for the more robust sounding Tenor Cor thereby imitating the French Horn sound popular vwith military bands without having to adjust to a different method of playing.

Attached is a picture of the Band of the 2nd Vol. Battalion RWF at Conwy in 1901. The emblazonment on the Bass Drum is quite clear for comparison with your pic.

Dave

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Hope this may help but it would probably be better with a higher definition scan. When you zoom in it pixelates before you can get any detail

Regards Geoff

post-1-1109784214.jpg

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Thanks for all the help so far guys... it's a great help in narrowing down the options!

As suggested I've rescanned the photo at higher resolution in greyscale and I hope this makes the images of the cap badge and the drum clearer.

post-1-1109793748.jpg

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Battle Honour could be S.Africa 1900-2 as awarded to Volunteers and carried by 4th/5th/6th. Batts. RNF.

Dave

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Guest deepathart

Just aside from the band - what are the stripes on the arm of the fellow with the leopard skin, are they wound stripes.

The second photo the RWF - what a happy bunch they look ;)

Regards

Dee

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The photo is probably of 149th (Northumberland Fusiliers) Brigade Band, part of 50th (Northumbrian) Division. Many Territorial Force Infantry Brigades took one of their bands with them on active service to act as a Brigade Band. In the case of 137th (Staffordshire) Brigade, the band was provided by 1/5th South Staffords.

The other clue to the identity of the soldiers is the horizontal rectangle worn on the upper arms of some of the soldiers. This ties in with the shape of the patches worn by 149th Brigade as part of 50th Division's scheme of cloth insignia. You can also just make out St George within the Grenade, therefore making them Northumberland Fusiliers.

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Thanks for all the help with identifying the photograph...

All the suggestions and information supplied gave me enough to narrow my search to the Northumberland Fusiliers and enabled me to find my great-great uncle, Walter Harry Phillips, in the medal rolls at TNA today (no luck with service records).

The medal rolls gave his battalions as the 1/5th Northumberland Fusiliers and subsequently 1/6th Northumberland Fusiliers.

I don't know when he moved from the 1/5th to the 1/6th but he was in the 1/6th by 5th April 1917 as his name (and reg. no) appears in a list of sick sent to hospital that was attached to the war diary of the 1/6th battalion for that month.

I've subsequently learnt that a niece of Walter's remembered that he was a clarinet player in a boy's band when he was growing up... so my great-great uncle may well be one of the men in the back row of the photograph.

Another look at the back of the original photograph revealed the address of the photographers in Fecamp, which may well be where it was taken.

I still have no idea quite how a South London lad ended up in the Northumberland Fusiliers (or whether that wouldn't really have been that unusual) as I'm not aware of any family connections at present, but I guess you can't solve every question!

Once again I should say a big thank you for all the suggestions as I simply wouldn't have been able to trace his entry in the medal rolls without your help... I really can't emphasise how much I appreciate the help!

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I'm sure this is probably a naive question, but did being in a brigade band mean that my great-great uncle would not have been in the front line? (I'm trying to get an idea of how relevant the battalion war diary entries I've read would be to his experiences).

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