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Remembered Today:

Uniform Identity


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Hi,

 

I have been researching, for many years, the men with an Inverkeithing connection who died in the Great War. Through a contact on ancestry I have kindly been given a photograph of two men who may be commemorated on the Inverkeithing WW1 Memorial.

 

The men in question are:

Name: William Thornton

Rank: Bombardier

Service Number: 18129

Unit: Guards Z Trench Mortar Battery

Regiment: Royal Garrison Artillery

 

Name: Robert Thornton

Rank: Sergeant

Service Number: 23933

Unit: 4th Divisional Ammunition Column; 125 Battery

Regiment: Royal Field Artillery

William was killed at Ypres on the 18th May 1916 and his brother Robert was killed at Arras on the the 4th June 1917. We would be most grateful if anybody on the forum could provide any information based on the uniforms being worn?

Thornton Brothers.jpg

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FROGSMILE

Both uniforms are those of Royal Artillery soldiers circa WW1, as suggested by the details you provided.  Cap badges for Field and Garrison artillery branches were identical, as were the upper garments (jackets, etc.).  As rank badges were worn predominantly on the upper arm it’s not possible to identify the ranks of the two men and because we cannot see their lower halves clues like spurs that would identify their roles cannot be seen.  The soldier on the right has a ‘whangee’ type swagger stick that implies a dismounted form of dress and so more likely to be Garrison artillery.  That type of stick was popular with soldiers who had served in the East and together with his medal ribbon suggests pre-war service as a regular.  His medal ribbon appears to me to be the King’s South Africa Medal for service during the latter half of the Anglo/Boer War 1899-1902.  The lanyard (shoulder cord) of the man on the left is not a special feature and is seen on most soldiers as a standard way of securing the issued clasp knife in his top left pocket.

 

NB.  If I could see the whole of the photo I might be able to add a little more.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Ribbon for the tall soldier on right appears to be MSM.

KSA would not be worn alone, but rather with QSA.

 

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FROGSMILE
32 minutes ago, RNCVR said:

Ribbon for the tall soldier on right appears to be MSM.

KSA would not be worn alone, but rather with QSA.

 

Surely KSA would not be worn alone if the soldier concerned had only served a tour of duty during the latter stages of the war under the reign of King Edward VII, which is what I’d assumed?  
 

The MSM required the recipient to already be a possessor of the LS&GC.
 

All, that said, I’m not positive of the ribbon ID.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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He would have rec'd the SA'01 & '02 clasps to his QSA.   Requirement for KSA was 18 months service in SA after Jan 1901.

However, saying that, I am not absolutely certain I know exactly what the Army regulations were.

Very very unusual to see the KSA being worn alone tho.

 

I agree with you on the ribbon ID, however it appears to be the MSM pattern to me tho.

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Andrew Upton
1 hour ago, RNCVR said:

Ribbon for the tall soldier on right appears to be MSM.

KSA would not be worn alone, but rather with QSA.

 

 

My gut reaction was that is not a KSA or QSA or MSM, but given the apparent age of the soldier could be something like the India Medal 1895-1902, with orthochromatic film having worked it's misleading effect on the purple and green stripes:

 

India General Service Medal 1895-1902, 1 Clasp: Punjab Frontier 1897-98,  awarded to Private R. Rooks, 1st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, who  saw service during the Punjab Frontier operations which lasted from 10th

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Andrew, the central & two side stripes appear very light, that is why I went with MSM.  Even taking into account the orthochromatic film differences in actual colour, I feel they would show up much darker with an IGS colour scheme.

 

Perhaps a mate with access to MSM book might check & determine if this soldier was actually awarded the MSM & year awarded.

I only have the Navy recipients book.

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FROGSMILE
9 minutes ago, Andrew Upton said:

 

My gut reaction was that is not a KSA or QSA or MSM, but given the apparent age of the soldier could be something like the India Medal 1895-1902, with orthochromatic film having worked it's misleading effect on the purple and green stripes:

 

India General Service Medal 1895-1902, 1 Clasp: Punjab Frontier 1897-98,  awarded to Private R. Rooks, 1st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, who  saw service during the Punjab Frontier operations which lasted from 10th

That sounds much more likely to me Andrew.  I’m fairly sure that no MSM was eligible until the LS&GC was in hand.  It also fits with my belief that he was an old soldier before WW1.  Initially it wasn’t possible to serve long enough to receive the MSM until after you’d already earned a Rooti Gong via long service.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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charlie962

Robert Thornton 23933 was an old soldier who is on the Roll for GSM India 1909 Clasp Northwest Frontier 1908 with 8th Mountain Battery RGA. The problem is the ribbon seems to be green edges and broad central blue stripe which does not match the photo??  Medal experts please?

 

I am puzzled why his number 23933 was RGA but when he served WW1 with RFA he kept the same number ?

The RGA number of that series seems to be an October 1905 issue. Short Service 9/3 which means he would still be Colour Service Aug 1914. That ties up with his rapid departure to France as a Cpl with the 4th DAC.

 

His Pension Card does not give his age but that of his widow Annie who was born 17/7/1891.

 

Charlie

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charlie962
4 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

NB.  If I could see the whole of the photo I might be able to add a little more.

Agreed.

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charlie962

25 year old Bdr Robert Thornton is on the 1911 Census for No 8 Mntn Bty RGA, India (Quetta I think). Born Greenside Edinburgh

 

I note the 1901 Census Inverkeithing has him born 1888 so perhaps fibbed about his age to enlist ? - and catch up with his brother ?

 

Brother William was born c 1884 ie 4 yrs older which is what the photo suggests to me. William's service number could be a Jan 1904 RGA enlistment so he might have been in the reserve at the start of the Great War. Both brothers have that professional service look and I see their father was also a soldier.

Edited by charlie962
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charlie962

I note there was another brother Edmund, born 1890 (or so he told the Army but 1901 Census says 1892), who was also Regular RGA 28399 (enlistFeb 1908), winning a DCM with the Gold Coast Regiment !

 

But the ribbon in the photo is not DCM.

 

I post his citation (courtesy Ancestry) out of interest:

1183116192_GWFThorntonERGADCM.JPG.c22a85b8081d57b6d7a2a830307d6c39.JPG

 

A family with distinguished service.

Edited by charlie962
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FROGSMILE
32 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

Both brothers have that professional service look and I see their father was also a soldier.

Yes it stands out very clearly I agree and the service backgrounds that you’ve unearthed chime entirely with that.  The Indian service fits with Andrew’s perception of the medal ribbon too.

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charlie962
2 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

The Indian service fits with Andrew’s perception of the medal ribbon too.

But how to reconcile the ribbons?

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FROGSMILE
12 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

But how to reconcile the ribbons?

I’m not sure Charlie, there’s just a single ribbon and I’m really just agreeing with Andrew that (if it’s not a KSA then) it’s probably an Indian campaign medal, although the photo suggests a single central vertical stripe.  I’m confident it’s not a MSM; apart from the fact he would need a LS&GC too it would be fairly uncommon (although not impossible) to earn meritorious service without a few additional campaign medals.  It’s not generally a ribbon that would stand alone.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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This may assist ----

 

Medal Yearbook - Army MSM entry  ---  "Until Nov 1902 holders were not allowed to wear the (Army) LSGC as well as the MSM, but thereafter both medals could be worn, the LSGC taking precedence."

 

The white edges were added to the MSM ribbon 1916-17, & became three white stripes in Aug 1917.

Edited by RNCVR
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These soldiers are my great uncles, and Edmund Thornton DCM was my grandad. Im sooo keen to identify which soldier is which in the photo, and now really keen to hear what you all feel the medal ribbon represents. We feel extremely proud to have such brave relatives in our family. I'll see if i can find the uncropped version of this photo. Thank you.

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FROGSMILE
2 hours ago, RNCVR said:

 

This may assist ----

 

Medal Yearbook - Army MSM entry  ---  "Until Nov 1902 holders were not allowed to wear the (Army) LSGC as well as the MSM, but thereafter both medals could be worn, the LSGC taking precedence."

 

The white edges were added to the MSM ribbon 1916-17, & became three white stripes in Aug 1917.

Thank you for clarifying that Bryan, I’d read through the evolution of the MSM some years ago and should have troubled to dig it back out.  Personally I still don’t think that the ribbon is an MSM on balance because it would be extremely unusual for it to be the only ribbon on a chest.  Earning the MSM was never easy (still isn’t) with only a few issued each year and to achieve meritorious acclamation suggests previous service that was likely to be reflected by campaign medals.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Would there be any chance (if he was awarded the MSM) that the date of his award be recorded on his MIC?

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FROGSMILE
4 minutes ago, RNCVR said:

Would there be any chance (if he was awarded the MSM) that the date of his award be recorded on his MIC?

I’m not sure how the award was documented Bryan.  As I understand it MICs were set up specifically to administer the mass issue of war medals so I suspect that MSMs were separate just like MM and DCM, etc.

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charlie962
19 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

I’m really just agreeing with Andrew that (if it’s not a KSA then) it’s probably an Indian campaign medal,

 

20 hours ago, charlie962 said:

Robert Thornton 23933 was an old soldier who is on the Roll for GSM India 1909 Clasp Northwest Frontier 1908 with 8th Mountain Battery RGA. The problem is the ribbon seems to be green edges and broad central blue stripe which does not match the photo??  Medal experts please?

The medal ribbon in the photo looks very like the earlier IGSM but surely he would not wear the old ribbon ?

Edited by charlie962
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charlie962
17 hours ago, HE Jamie said:

These soldiers are my great uncles, and Edmund Thornton DCM was my grandad. Im sooo keen to identify which soldier is which in the photo, and now really keen to hear what you all feel the medal ribbon represents. We feel extremely proud to have such brave relatives in our family. I'll see if i can find the uncropped version of this photo. Thank you.

Welcome to the Forum. That is a cracking citation for a DCM.

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charlie962
18 hours ago, HE Jamie said:

We feel extremely proud to have such brave relatives in our family.

I see that their father William Charles Henry Thornton was also RA. And WCHT's  father William before that. Quite a line. Is it coincidence that in the 1901 Census their address is Battery House, Inverkeithing !!

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My great grandad lived at Battery House for a while. We thought it had some army connection. My Grandad's eldest son, also Edmund joined up in 1939, but was killed in Egypt, and my grandad re-enlisted with the RAMC, i think it was, and served here in Perth during WW2. That was the last lot of Thorntons to serve, but theyve certainly served the country well from the early 1800s.

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1 hour ago, charlie962 said:

Welcome to the Forum. That is a cracking citation for a DCM.

Thank you. We hunted for ages for the citation, and finally found it on a trip to the IWM in London. My dad has all my grandad's medals, incl the DCM and wore them with pride at the Centenary Service held at Glasgow Cathedral in 2018. 

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