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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Inter-unit transfers in the UK

Northern Soul

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Is it common for a man in the Artillery to be transferred to an infantry battalion whilst still serving in the UK? It strikes me as rather strange to initially train someone and employ them as a gunner only to then transfer them to the infantry. This transfer would have happened in Summer, 1915, the man involved being attached to coastal defence batteries.

Any ideas?


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Possibly the Coastal Defence Batteries were fully manned and the infantry needed men, possibly he requested the transfer as his battery were stuck in the UK and he wanted to see some action?


p.s. During the latter stages of WWII an anti-tank regt that I am researching was told to hand in its anti-tank guns and become infantrymen. There were not enough German tanks left for them to take on and there was a shortage of infantrymen to guard enemy POWs and captured sites.

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It strikes me that what we are sealing with here is a two-fold issue. As indicated by the previous post, we have to remember that as the war developed in scale and in terms of human involvement the Army needed to source individual manpower and direct it to whichever unit or arm of service was most in need. Despite the amazing changes which took place in the Army as it evolved technically and logistically, the main fighting force remained the infantry, which incurred the highest casualties and therefore needed the most men. It was therefore by no means unusual for troops to be drafted from a Corps to an infantry regiment; sometimes this took place overseas (particularly in the aftermath of the 1918 German offensives) but also at home; I recall Ernest Parker ('Into Battle; A Seventeen Year Old Joins Kitchener's Army') being transferred from his original regiment of choice, in the cavalry, to the Durham Light Infantry during the 'voluntary' period of recruiting, for example. On the other hand, we must always bear in mind the human dimensions; perhaps the individual soldier sought a transfer himself? Were there promotion prospects? Maybe, as mentioned, life in a coastal battery in the UK was boring and uninteresting to a young man intent on excitement (and keen on meeting French girls!), or perhaps he was utterly useless as a Gunner?

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All the corps received musketry training, which in 1914 had proved invaluable in such battles as Néry and First Ypres. Coastal defence was an area of continual wrangling between the Admiralty and the War Office. In 1914 the Admiralty had taken charge of the anti-aircraft defence of Britain and I think in 1915 they took over coastal defence, so he might have been surplus to requirements and the infantry was in greatest need.


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