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F W McCann 23306 Worc 18088 MGC arm and shoulder insignia


Steve Turner

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I am continuing to piece together the service history of my GGG Uncle who was kia 8th Oct 1918. The only partial picture we have of him was taken after 17 August 1917 when he is pictured with family and my GG Grandfather in uniform who was called up on 17/08/1917. I attach a colourised image of his arm and group photo which a family member cut off his head (perhaps to create a portrait or locket image). I am sure he has a good conduct stripe on his left arm and a roundish badge above that. I believe it is a proficiency or skills type badge but I am unsure.

 

Q1/ Can anyone identify the sleeve badge from the image?

 

Q2/ Also, as he went to France with the Worc Regt and presumably went on to be a member of the MGC would he have had both Worcestershire & MGC shoulder titles on his uniform or would the MGC title simply have replaced the Worc when Divisional M G Corps were formed?

Q3/ I have seen cloth MGC shoulder titles. Did these replace the brass ones at some point?

Q4/ Am I right in thinking that at some point all shoulder titles were required to be removed?

 

Q5/ In order to become a MGC member would you have to have had MG training in England or could infantry become MGC team members "in the field". I was merely speculating if it is possible FW McCann could have been back in England for Training or just on leave. The family Aug 1917 (or later) cropped photo would have ben taken in the west London area. 

 

I hope this is a reasonable set of qestions and that someone (or ones) will be able to provide answers. Thanking you all in advance. Steve.

Arm2.jpg

McCann Clan gatherting 1918 colour.jpg

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Q1. Possibly the Qualified machine gunner badge MG in a wreath although I can't make out a wreath

 

Q2. He would have worn MGC titles upon transfer

 

Q3. Cloth titles in part replaced  the brass(gilding metal) titles but not on a large scale. worn by the British Army from April 1916 to conserve metal. Initially worn to slip onto the shoulder strap GRO 2137, 13. 2. 17 ordered that they be moved to the top of the sleeve just below the point of the shoulder so that they were more visible. They were embroidered, printed and painted. From September 1917 they were made in a light coloured mercerised cotton.

Q4. I am not sure

 

Q5. The MGC training school was established at Grantham but schools were aslo set up in France and Belgium

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I concur with Mark’s excellent answers and can add just a few thoughts.  
 

Q.1.  Like him I’m surmising that the badge on his sleeve is MG in a wreath, and I think I can just about make out the wreath, but the central part is more blurred.  What struck me is an apparent line that suggests a cloth patch on which the badge sits.  This was a popular way of affixing the brass badges that were common then as once the patch was on the bottom was left open and holes pierced through the patch.  The badge could then be fixed to the patch, inserting the cotter pins under the open bottom of the patch.  By doing this the sleeve of the jacket itself was not pierced.  This was more common in regular battalions.

 

Q.4.  I’ve never heard or seen any evidence of a blanket ban on wearing shoulder titles, although they were apparently sometimes removed for trench raiding.

 

Q.5.  As regards the existing trained machine gunners when the MGC was formed, my understanding was that the infantry sections already in France & Flanders moved across en masse without any need to attend the MG Centre or Divisional schools.

 

NB.  The arm badge is really tough to discern. @CorporalPunishmentmight be able to see better on his screen.

44B1AEC8-F91B-47FD-98D4-C431AFDF3DD7.jpeg

248AC472-5D8C-4AB8-BDB3-D9B351EEE8A0.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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10 hours ago, mark holden said:

Q1. Possibly the Qualified machine gunner badge MG in a wreath although I can't make out a wreath

 

Q2. He would have worn MGC titles upon transfer

 

Q3. Cloth titles in part replaced  the brass(gilding metal) titles but not on a large scale. worn by the British Army from April 1916 to conserve metal. Initially worn to slip onto the shoulder strap GRO 2137, 13. 2. 17 ordered that they be moved to the top of the sleeve just below the point of the shoulder so that they were more visible. They were embroidered, printed and painted. From September 1917 they were made in a light coloured mercerised cotton.

Q4. I am not sure

 

Q5. The MGC training school was established at Grantham but schools were aslo set up in France and Belgium

Thank you for this. Much appreciated.

 

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30 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

I concur with Mark’s excellent answers and can add just a few thoughts.  
 

Q.1.  Like him I’m surmising that the badge on his sleeve is MG in a wreath, and I think I can just about make out the wreath, but the central part is more blurred.  What struck me is an apparent line that suggests a cloth patch on which the badge sits.  This was a popular way of affixing the brass badges that were common then as once the patch was on the bottom was left open and holes pierced through the patch.  The badge could then be fixed to the patch, inserting the cotter pins under the open bottom of the patch.  By doing this the sleeve of the jacket itself was not pierced.  This was more common in regular battalions.

 

Q.4.  I’ve never heard or seen any evidence of a blanket ban on wearing shoulder titles, although they were apparently sometimes removed for trench raiding.

 

Q.5.  As regards the existing trained machine gunners when the MGC was formed, my understanding was that the infantry sections already in France & Flanders moved across en masse without any need to attend the MG Centre or Divisional schools.

 

NB.  The arm badge is really tough to discern. @CorporalPunishmentmight be able to see better on his screen.

44B1AEC8-F91B-47FD-98D4-C431AFDF3DD7.jpeg

248AC472-5D8C-4AB8-BDB3-D9B351EEE8A0.jpeg

 

Thank you for your additional thoughts. Much appreciated.

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Also, so far as the good conduct stripe is concerned c 1917, is this an inverted Lance-Corporal stripe or was it a special stripe made for the purpose?

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8 hours ago, Steve Turner said:

Also, so far as the good conduct stripe is concerned c 1917, is this an inverted Lance-Corporal stripe or was it a special stripe made for the purpose?

The good conduct badges (GCB) as they were called had long been created by reversing the orientation (inverting) a standard rank stripe, using the various types authorised for, e.g. drab khaki service dress, and coloured worsted tape for full dress, and scarlet, blue, or rifle green undress frocks.

3DCF2DA0-FB43-4AB5-8A83-4340569916F3.jpeg

270686A1-627E-4F8C-9359-7CF3409BCDD9.jpeg

05625607-3F3E-4552-9720-784D0BC56C53.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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On 16/03/2021 at 21:10, Steve Turner said:

Q5/ In order to become a MGC member would you have to have had MG training in England or could infantry become MGC team members "in the field". I was merely speculating if it is possible FW McCann could have been back in England for Training or just on leave.

 

His transfer to the MGC dated from the formation of the Corps in 1916 (as opposed to its creation in October 1915).  One of twenty five men transferred from the MG Section of the 3rd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment on the 12th January and formed into a section of 7th Company MGC. 

He would not have trained in the UK as previously noted. 

 

The 7th Company was absorbed into the 25th Battalion on re-organisation of the Corps in March 1918, as he was serving with that Battalion when killed the conclusion must be that he was on leave, either home leave or sick leave, in August 1917 and he had continuous service in the same unit of the MGC from 1916 until his death.

 

 

 

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On 17/03/2021 at 10:18, FROGSMILE said:

The good conduct badges (GCB) as they were called had long been created by reversing the orientation (inverting) a standard rank stripe, using the various types authorised for, e.g. drab khaki service dress, and coloured worsted tape for full dress, and scarlet, blue, or rifle green undress frocks.

3DCF2DA0-FB43-4AB5-8A83-4340569916F3.jpeg

270686A1-627E-4F8C-9359-7CF3409BCDD9.jpeg

05625607-3F3E-4552-9720-784D0BC56C53.jpeg

Thank you for all the images.

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On 17/03/2021 at 18:02, kenf48 said:

 

His transfer to the MGC dated from the formation of the Corps in 1916 (as opposed to its creation in October 1915).  One of twenty five men transferred from the MG Section of the 3rd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment on the 12th January and formed into a section of 7th Company MGC. 

He would not have trained in the UK as previously noted. 

 

The 7th Company was absorbed into the 25th Battalion on re-organisation of the Corps in March 1916, as he was serving with that Battalion when killed the conclusion must be that he was on leave, either home leave or sick leave, in August 1917 and he had continuous service in the same unit of the MGC from 1916 until his death.

 

 

 

That's really helpful and quite precise. Re Leave, having now read a number of personal accounts of service in WW1 it is clear that personnel were "routinely" given leave on a rota basis. We can deduce from the photo that he had at least one spell of leave. I would like to think he had more but I can't imagine anyone could answer that, not without sight of a service record and regrettably I believe these to be lost in WW2 like so many others. Thanks to everyone for all the help so far.

 

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Just noticed a typo in my post :doh:

 

7th Company formed into 25th Battalion March 1918, not 1916.Post amended.

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On 17/03/2021 at 09:08, FROGSMILE said:

I concur with Mark’s excellent answers and can add just a few thoughts.  
 

Q.1.  Like him I’m surmising that the badge on his sleeve is MG in a wreath, and I think I can just about make out the wreath, but the central part is more blurred.  What struck me is an apparent line that suggests a cloth patch on which the badge sits.  This was a popular way of affixing the brass badges that were common then as once the patch was on the bottom was left open and holes pierced through the patch.  The badge could then be fixed to the patch, inserting the cotter pins under the open bottom of the patch.  By doing this the sleeve of the jacket itself was not pierced.  This was more common in regular battalions.

 

Q.4.  I’ve never heard or seen any evidence of a blanket ban on wearing shoulder titles, although they were apparently sometimes removed for trench raiding.

 

Q.5.  As regards the existing trained machine gunners when the MGC was formed, my understanding was that the infantry sections already in France & Flanders moved across en masse without any need to attend the MG Centre or Divisional schools.

 

NB.  The arm badge is really tough to discern. @CorporalPunishmentmight be able to see better on his screen.

44B1AEC8-F91B-47FD-98D4-C431AFDF3DD7.jpeg

248AC472-5D8C-4AB8-BDB3-D9B351EEE8A0.jpeg

I would agree it's most likely to be the MG in wreath machine gunner arm badge and would add that his shoulder titles would have been the brass MGC over I for Machine Gun Corps (Infantry).    Pete.

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The history of Good Conduct Badges, [chevrons, correctly heraldically points up], predated the use of points-down rank badges by many years in the French army.  This is according to Dawnay.

In the British army the points -down version for rank beat the points- up for conduct by a short head.

 

 

Edited by Muerrisch
Clarification
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1 hour ago, CorporalPunishment said:

I would agree it's most likely to be the MG in wreath machine gunner arm badge and would add that his shoulder titles would have been the brass MGC over I for Machine Gun Corps (Infantry).    Pete.

 

Thanks Pete.

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