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1/4th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers - Training Camps???


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CMcDonnell

Hello all, this is my first time writing in this forum so apologies if this is in the wrong place....

 

I am currently researching my Great Grandfather and the 1/4th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers and their exploits in the Great War.... I have a ton of information on what the Northumberland Brigade did during the war and the battles etc. they participated in.

 

I am putting a story together of my Great Grandfather's journey from home to France and back again.... 

 

What I am trying to find out is where the most likely place he would have enlisted and what training camp(s) he would have trained in... I know he enlisted on 9/6/1915

 

Any assistance or information on the enlistment process and/or training camps would be greatly appreciated!

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1 hour ago, CMcDonnell said:

What I am trying to find out is where the most likely place he would have enlisted and what training camp(s) he would have trained in... I know he enlisted on 9/6/1915

 

Hi and welcome to the forum :)

 

A good place to start is usually our parent site, the Long, Long Trail.

 

This tells us that the 1/4th Battalion landed in France in April 1915.

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/northumberland-fusiliers/

So if your Great Grandfather didn't enlist until the 9th June 1915, then he didn't start his service with that Battalion, and possibly may not have even enlisted in the Northumberland Fusiliers.

 

So probably time to share name and service number to see if the collective brains trust here can tell you anything more about his army career - I'm assuming his is amongst the many service records that went up in flames during the Blitz.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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CMcDonnell
11 hours ago, PRC said:

 

Hi and welcome to the forum :)

 

A good place to start is usually our parent site, the Long, Long Trail.

 

This tells us that the 1/4th Battalion landed in France in April 1915.

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/northumberland-fusiliers/

So if your Great Grandfather didn't enlist until the 9th June 1915, then he didn't start his service with that Battalion, and possibly may not have even enlisted in the Northumberland Fusiliers.

 

So probably time to share name and service number to see if the collective brains trust here can tell you anything more about his army career - I'm assuming his is amongst the many service records that went up in flames during the Blitz.

 

Cheers,

Peter

Thank you for replying PRC. 

 

I thought much the same that maybe some information was lost in the fire during WW2.

 

His name was Private Joseph R Bell and his service numbers were 4/2787, 5/6852, 242082. Records I found on Find My Past, National Archives and his Medal Cards tell me he enlisted in the 1/4th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers on 9/6/15, served in France, at some point transferred to the 1/5th Battalion and was discharged with a 'KR Para 392(xvi)/Gun Shot Wound' on 3/1/18. So I think I've found most information relating specifically to him.

I also have the War Diaries from the 1/4th Bn and the 1/5th Bn...

 

What I'm trying find information about is if he enlisted while the Northumberland Brigade was in Ypres, where are the most likely places he would have trained prior to being shipped out to France??

 

Again, thank you for any information anyone may have

 

Cheers

Chris

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FROGSMILE

Their training (i.e. the 1/4th) as part of the Northumbrian Brigade was extensively carried out at Hexham Training Camp as far as I can recall from reading. The very best person to give chapter and verse on this is @Graham Stewartwho has studied the regiment’s activities during WW1 for much of his adult life.  I’m sure that he will be able to make further comment.

 

NB.  There is a full essay on the training carried out by the Northumbrian Brigade accessible online at the following link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/44231816?seq=1

To gain access there is a temporary free pathway for non academics but once lockdown is lifted you can also gain access via local library membership.

 

There was a website for the unit at 4thbnnf.com but it seems to now be moribund?

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Michelle Young

Just a thought, are you getting his enlistment date from his medal index card? If so the date at the bottom is date of entry to theatre of war.

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CMcDonnell
4 minutes ago, Michelle Young said:

Just a thought, are you getting his enlistment date from his medal index card? If so the date at the bottom is date of entry to theatre of war.

Thank you for replying Michelle, his medal cards say he entered the French Theatre of war on 6/9/15.

One record on Find My Past says he enlisted on 9/6/15 and another says 9-June-1915. I took this to be that he enlisted in June 1915 and entered France in September 1915. But also because the dates seem similar and are just written differently it may be a typo on the Find My Past records......

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CMcDonnell
23 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

Their training (i.e. the 1/4th) as part of the Northumbrian Brigade was extensively carried out at Hexham Training Camp as far as I can recall from reading. The very best person to give chapter and verse on this is @Graham Stewartwho has studied the regiment’s activities during WW1 for much of his adult life.  I’m sure that he will be able to make further comment.

 

NB.  There is a full essay on the training carried out by the Northumbrian Brigade accessible online at the following link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/44231816?seq=1

To gain access there is a temporary free pathway for non academics but once lockdown is lifted you can also gain access via local library membership.

 

There was a website for the unit at 4thbnnf.com but it seems to now be moribund?

 

Thank you for this, very helpful. I will look into it!

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FROGSMILE

It seems likely to me that if he joined 1/4th after it was already in theatre then he would probably have been trained by the 2/4th or 3/4th (given the 1915 dates you’ve quoted) and sent as part of a draft of reinforcements).

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Chris,

 

If he didn’t start with the 1/4th then he didn’t train with the Northumberland Brigade.

 

He landed in France on the 6th September 1915 – date of entry in a Theatre of War shown on his Medal Index Card.

 

242082 comes from the block of service numbers allocated to the 5th Battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers at the start of 1917 as part of the Territorial Force renumbering. Given that the block started at 240001 it will need some further investigation to discover whether he was likely to have still been with the 1/5th at that point.

 

Hopefully a pal with access to Ancestry can check out the Service Medal Roll for his Victory Medal and British War Medal to check if there are any other overseas Battalions listed for him. Similarly the Silver War Badge Roll should show which unit he was discharged from - for some reason I'm not getting a match on FindMyPast.

 

Will try a search of nearby records to see if they turn up any guides as to his likely Army career.

 

Cheers,

Peter

Edited by PRC
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CMcDonnell
4 minutes ago, PRC said:

Chris,

 

If he didn’t start with the 1/4th then he didn’t train with the Northumberland Brigade.

 

He landed in France on the 6th September 1915 – date of entry in a Theatre of War shown on his Medal Index Card.

 

242082 comes from the block of service numbers allocated to the 5th Battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers at the start of 1917 as part of the Territorial Force renumbering. Given that the block started at 240001 it will need some further investigation to discover whether he was likely to have still been with the 1/5th at that point.

 

Hopefully a pal with access to Ancestry can check out the Service Medal Roll for his Victory Medal and British War Medal to check if there are any other overseas Battalions listed for him. Simialarly the Silver War Badge Roll should show which unit he was discharged from - for some reason I'm not getting a match on FindMyPast.

 

Will try a search of nearby records to see if they turn up any guides as to his likely Army career.

 

Cheers,

Peter

Thank you.

 

I have the Silver War Badge Roll - it says he was discharged from the 5th Btn. Northumberland Fusiliers (T.F.)..... 

I also have another record saying he transferred from the 1/4th Bn

 

I have attached these if they helpful

Record Transcription_ Silver War Badge Roll 1914-1920 _ findmypast.co.uk.pdf Record Transcription_ British Army, Northumberland Fusiliers 1881-1920 _ findmypast.co.uk.pdf

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ianjonesncl

A very good book which I would recommend if you have not already seen it is A Sturdy Race of Men - 149 Brigade A History of the Northumberland Fusiliers Territorial Battalions in the Great War. It outlines the history of the 4th to 7th Battalions Northumberland Fusiliers.

 

The author of the book is Alan Isaac Grint, who is a member of the GWF - @draperju . Alan had a bookshop in Hexham and has written a number of books remembering soldiers in the Hexham and North Tyne area. He would be worth contacting. 

 

As has been pointed out Private Bell joined the 1/4th after the Battalion deployed to France. I am aware that the Battalion trained on Hexham Common (an arrangement that lasted in modern times - I trained on there many years ago), however I do not know if was a permanent camp or of this continued after moving to France.

 

There was an extensive camp built on the pastures in front of Alnwick Castle which was used for the New Army Battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers. I do not know if was utilised by Territorials 

 

 

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So looks like we have 4/2787 as the earliest known service number for him.

 

Bit of a dearth of surviving service records when looking for for men with the next 20 service numbers on either side. There are men who died, men who were taken prisoners and men who were discharged early, so there are bits of confirmatory and supplemental information that can be picked up.

 

For example.

 

4/2796 James Grieve was Killed in Action on the 14th February 1916 while serving in France & Flanders with the 1/4th Battalion. His entry on Soldiers Died in the Great War, (SDGW),  shows he enlisted Hexham, Northumberland. His Medal Index Card shows that he landed in France on the 7th September 1915. It’s likely he was actually part of the same draft as Joseph.

At that point of the war, to reduce risk, shipping back and forth across the channel often went at night and so both dates can crop up on MiCs.

 

Looking at lower numbers.

 

4/2786 Harvey Mackey was Killed in Action on the 18th November 1916 while serving in France & Flanders with the 1/4th Battalion. His entry on SDGW  shows he enlisted Hexham, Northumberland. His body was recovered from the battlefield in August 1919 and he is now interred at Flatiron Copse Cemetery, Mametz. His Medal Index Card shows that he landed in France on the 7th September 1915.

 

4/2785 Jabez Simpson has Medical Discharge records. He enlisted 8th June 1915. His Medical Examination on the 10th July 1916 records that his medical condition “originated 10 months ago at Hexham.” His home address is in Newburn-on-Tyne. He was discharged on the 24th July 1916 from the Command Depot at Ripon, having never served overseas.

The Long, Long Trail has this about the 63rd (2nd Northumberland) Division.

  • The units of the ‘second line’, the 2nd Northumbrian Division, remained at home. Along with other ‘second line’ Divisions suffered it greatly from lack of equipment of all sorts, and training was inevitably affected. Divisional HQ was set up at Newcastle and took responsibility for coastal defences of the sector Seaham Harbour – Sunderland – Newcastle; 188th Brigade at Swallwell Camp; 189th Brigade at Cramlington Camp and 190th at Heworth. The artillery was at Newcastle, Gosforth Park and Gateshead; the RE at Newcastle. King George V inspected the Division at Newcastle on 20 May 1915.
  • On 26 July 1915 orders were received that 600 was the minimum strength for any ‘second line’ infantry battalion and any men in excess of that number could be taken for overseas service.
  • http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/63rd-2nd-northumbrian-division/
  • The 3/4th Battalion would also have been subject to the size reduction and might explain the transfer to France at the start of September 1915. The core of the 2/4th was made up of men who had not signed the foreign service obligation, so if there was more than 600 of them in any Home Service only Territorial Force Battalion, the balance would have been transferred to another such Home Service Battalion, not sent to France or anywhere else overseas. It would take the Military Services Act of 1916 to remove the right to be Home Service only for men serving with the Territorial Force.

4/2784 Michael Hastings “Died” on the 15th September 1916 while serving in France & Flanders with the 1/4th Battalion. His entry on SDGW shows him enlisted Newburn-on-Tyne.

Victory Medal and British War Medal only, so didn’t go overseas until some point on or after the 1st January 1916.

 

4/2783 Robert Ancrum was Killed in Action on the 15th September 1916 while serving in France & Flanders with the 1/4th Battalion. His entry on SDGW shows him enlisted Newburn, Northumberland. His Medal Index Card shows that he landed in France on the 7th September 1915.

 

Hope some of that helps, (and that the Northumberland Fusiliers experts will be along shortly :) )

 

Peter

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FROGSMILE

I think that 2/4th NF was also formed at Hexham as it happens.

 

In the process of looking up information online I stumbled upon this interesting link to NF Obituaries from WW1 that some members may find of interest: http://northumberlandarchives.com/docs/Northld Fusiliers WW1 Officers Obituaries minimum.pdf

Edited by FROGSMILE
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10 hours ago, CMcDonnell said:

I also have another record saying he transferred from the 1/4th Bn

 

Men didn’t routinely transfer between units unless it suited the Army. Many of these moves were as a result of a medical evacuation as far back as the coast or even the UK for wounds \ accidental injury or ill-health.

 

If a man stayed in France, after his time in Hospital and at a Convalescence Depot, where a decision would be taken on fitness for further front-line service, he would then be sent to an Infantry Base Depot. As the war went on it became increasingly unlikely for a man to be returned to his original unit, and indeed the odds were against even being posted to another Battalion of the same Regiment.

 

If he ended upback in the UK he would be posted onto the strength of the Depot while he was having hospital and convalescing. After that he would report to the Depot and be posted to a Home-Service only Battalion where he would go through refresher training and assessment for fitness for frontline service. If deemed still capable of such service he would then be sent out as part of a draft, initially going to an Infantry Base Depot. From there he could end up with nearly any comparable unit serving in Theatre.

 

Looking for men with nearby service numbers to 5/6852 to try and understand when Private Joseph Bell ended up with the 5th Battalion :-

 

5/6843 No MiC match (Probably 242073 George Eldridge subsequently 58231 York & Lancaster – no service records).

5/6844 Arthur S. Verity ex 4/4598 subsequently 242074. No service records.

5/6845 No MiC match

5/6846 No MiC match

5/6847 James G. Alexander ex 4/6378 subsequently 242077. No service records.

5/6848 William Appleby ex 4/6662 subsequently 242078. No service records. (But there is also a MiC for 5/6848 Ralph Brown ex 4/1091. No service records.)

5/6849 No MiC match (Probably 242079 Ralph Brown – see above. SWB MiC shows discharged from the Depot).

5/6850 No MiC match (Probably 242080 John Brown ex 4/3181. No service records).

5/6851 Edward Bell, ex 4/4059 subsequently 242081. No service records.

 

5/6853 Robert Burn, ex 4/3348 subsequently 242083. No service records.

5/6854 Edward Brown ex 4/1424 subsequently 242084. Some surviving service records. Served various periods 1/4th and 3/4th Battalions, several periods in hospital, then posted to the 14th Reserve Battalion on the 23rd September 1916. Posted to a Base Depot on the 12th November 1916 and then the 1/5th on the 27th November 1916.

 

2133882138_EdwardBrown56854ex41424NFCasualtyFormsourcedFMP.jpg.3c2e6efafc8f328e0b22b2ca63cb3530.jpg

(Image courtesy FindMyPast)

5/6855 No MiC match (Probably 242085 George Baines ex 4/4639 – No service records. One page memo on FMP, admitted 2 Covalescence Depot Rouen from 10 General Hospital on the 2nd November 1917. Serving with the 5th Battalion he had suffered a GSW Right Shoulder.).

5/6856 No MiC match (Probably 242086 Sam Beevers ex 4/4627 – No service records. Died of Wounds 24/04/17 serving in France & Flanders with the 1/5th Battalion.)

5/6857 Arthur R. Brooks ex 4/6020. MiC shows 1/5th. No service records. Died of Wounds 21st January 1917.

5/6858 No MiC match. (Probably 242087 John Brown subsequently 45491 Scottish Rifles. Some surviving service records – originally 2087 4th Reserve.Embarked Folkestone 14/11/16, landed Boulogne same day. Transferred to 5th Battalion 27/11/16 and joined up with his unit in the field 30/11/16. B.103 form confirms previously 6858)599126255_JohnBrown56858ex4NFCasualtyFormsourcedFMP.jpg.d1423d23ca8b8e625755ef00070ae51e.jpg

(Image courtesy FindMyPast).

5/6859 No MiC match

5/6860 No MiC match (Possibly 242089 Frankland Cuthbert subsequently 235971 York & Lancaster – no Service Records).

5/6861 No MiC match (Possibly 242090 Edward Charlton ex 4/184 – No service records)

 

So looks likely that Joseph Bell also travelled out from Folkestone and landed at Boulogne on the 14th November 1916, as part of a draft from the Northumberland Fusiliers, marching into an as yet unidentified Infantry Base Depot. On the 27th November 1916 he was posted from the I.B.D. to the 5th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, joining up with that unit in the field on the 30th.

 

Hope that helps,

Peter

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CMcDonnell
23 hours ago, PRC said:

 

Men didn’t routinely transfer between units unless it suited the Army. Many of these moves were as a result of a medical evacuation as far back as the coast or even the UK for wounds \ accidental injury or ill-health.

 

If a man stayed in France, after his time in Hospital and at a Convalescence Depot, where a decision would be taken on fitness for further front-line service, he would then be sent to an Infantry Base Depot. As the war went on it became increasingly unlikely for a man to be returned to his original unit, and indeed the odds were against even being posted to another Battalion of the same Regiment.

 

If he ended upback in the UK he would be posted onto the strength of the Depot while he was having hospital and convalescing. After that he would report to the Depot and be posted to a Home-Service only Battalion where he would go through refresher training and assessment for fitness for frontline service. If deemed still capable of such service he would then be sent out as part of a draft, initially going to an Infantry Base Depot. From there he could end up with nearly any comparable unit serving in Theatre.

 

Looking for men with nearby service numbers to 5/6852 to try and understand when Private Joseph Bell ended up with the 5th Battalion :-

 

5/6843 No MiC match (Probably 242073 George Eldridge subsequently 58231 York & Lancaster – no service records).

5/6844 Arthur S. Verity ex 4/4598 subsequently 242074. No service records.

5/6845 No MiC match

5/6846 No MiC match

5/6847 James G. Alexander ex 4/6378 subsequently 242077. No service records.

5/6848 William Appleby ex 4/6662 subsequently 242078. No service records. (But there is also a MiC for 5/6848 Ralph Brown ex 4/1091. No service records.)

5/6849 No MiC match (Probably 242079 Ralph Brown – see above. SWB MiC shows discharged from the Depot).

5/6850 No MiC match (Probably 242080 John Brown ex 4/3181. No service records).

5/6851 Edward Bell, ex 4/4059 subsequently 242081. No service records.

 

5/6853 Robert Burn, ex 4/3348 subsequently 242083. No service records.

5/6854 Edward Brown ex 4/1424 subsequently 242084. Some surviving service records. Served various periods 1/4th and 3/4th Battalions, several periods in hospital, then posted to the 14th Reserve Battalion on the 23rd September 1916. Posted to a Base Depot on the 12th November 1916 and then the 1/5th on the 27th November 1916.

 

2133882138_EdwardBrown56854ex41424NFCasualtyFormsourcedFMP.jpg.3c2e6efafc8f328e0b22b2ca63cb3530.jpg

(Image courtesy FindMyPast)

5/6855 No MiC match (Probably 242085 George Baines ex 4/4639 – No service records. One page memo on FMP, admitted 2 Covalescence Depot Rouen from 10 General Hospital on the 2nd November 1917. Serving with the 5th Battalion he had suffered a GSW Right Shoulder.).

5/6856 No MiC match (Probably 242086 Sam Beevers ex 4/4627 – No service records. Died of Wounds 24/04/17 serving in France & Flanders with the 1/5th Battalion.)

5/6857 Arthur R. Brooks ex 4/6020. MiC shows 1/5th. No service records. Died of Wounds 21st January 1917.

5/6858 No MiC match. (Probably 242087 John Brown subsequently 45491 Scottish Rifles. Some surviving service records – originally 2087 4th Reserve.Embarked Folkestone 14/11/16, landed Boulogne same day. Transferred to 5th Battalion 27/11/16 and joined up with his unit in the field 30/11/16. B.103 form confirms previously 6858)599126255_JohnBrown56858ex4NFCasualtyFormsourcedFMP.jpg.d1423d23ca8b8e625755ef00070ae51e.jpg

(Image courtesy FindMyPast).

5/6859 No MiC match

5/6860 No MiC match (Possibly 242089 Frankland Cuthbert subsequently 235971 York & Lancaster – no Service Records).

5/6861 No MiC match (Possibly 242090 Edward Charlton ex 4/184 – No service records)

 

So looks likely that Joseph Bell also travelled out from Folkestone and landed at Boulogne on the 14th November 1916, as part of a draft from the Northumberland Fusiliers, marching into an as yet unidentified Infantry Base Depot. On the 27th November 1916 he was posted from the I.B.D. to the 5th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, joining up with that unit in the field on the 30th.

 

Hope that helps,

Peter

 

Hi Peter,

All this information you have provided is fascinating and I am quite envious of how you managed to piece all this information together!

 

I do know from family that he visited the hospital on 2 occasions; first with trench sickness and second with a gunshot wound which ultimately led to his discharge.

 

All of this is greatly appreciated and really gives a likely idea of his journey throughout the war.

 

Cheers,

Chris

 

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CMcDonnell
On 10/05/2021 at 11:56, ianjonesncl said:

A very good book which I would recommend if you have not already seen it is A Sturdy Race of Men - 149 Brigade A History of the Northumberland Fusiliers Territorial Battalions in the Great War. It outlines the history of the 4th to 7th Battalions Northumberland Fusiliers.

 

The author of the book is Alan Isaac Grint, who is a member of the GWF - @draperju . Alan had a bookshop in Hexham and has written a number of books remembering soldiers in the Hexham and North Tyne area. He would be worth contacting. 

 

As has been pointed out Private Bell joined the 1/4th after the Battalion deployed to France. I am aware that the Battalion trained on Hexham Common (an arrangement that lasted in modern times - I trained on there many years ago), however I do not know if was a permanent camp or of this continued after moving to France.

 

There was an extensive camp built on the pastures in front of Alnwick Castle which was used for the New Army Battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers. I do not know if was utilised by Territorials 

 

 

 

 

Hi Ian,

Thank you for the recommendation, I had seen this book online before but I was hesitant to buy as I was unaware of how much information it would hold, none the less I have now ordered it!

 

Cheers,

Chris

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3 hours ago, CMcDonnell said:

I do know from family that he visited the hospital on 2 occasions; first with trench sickness and second with a gunshot wound which ultimately led to his discharge.

 

Unfortunately we still haven't answered your original question about where he trained.

 

At the moment it looks like:-

 

9th June 1915 enlists as Joseph Bell possibly Hexham or Newburn-on-Tyne.Service number is 4/2787.

June 1915 – September 1915 training in the UK with the Northumberland Fusiliers.

If he joined the 2/4th then trained Swallwell Camp.

If he joined the 3/4th then unknown, but possibly Hexham (see 4/2785 Jabez Simpson).

 

6th September 1915 lands in France as part of a draft to the 1/4th Battalion, (or possibly departs from the UK and lands in France the next day).

 

1915/16 – possibly in Hospital for trench fever. If this required medical evacuation to the UK then could have ended up back at the Depot and then a Home Service only Battalion. As it’s not a wounding he would not appear in an official casualty list.

 

Late 1916 with a Reserve Battalion.in the UK. (But not the 14th Reserve as shown for 5/6854 Edward Brown as they were a Pioneer Battalion in France. I suspect it’s some variation on 1/4th.)

 

14th November 1916. Embarked Folkestone and landed Boulogne the same day.

 

November 1916. Reaches unknown Infantry Base depot and there on the –

27th November 1916. Posted to the 1/5th Battalion and renumbered 5/6852.

 

January to February 1917. Still on the strength of the 1/5th during the time of the Territorial Force renumbering.  New number is 242082.

 

1917 – Wounded. Date & circumstances not known. Not found on a casualty list so far.

 

3rd January 1918. Discharged under Kings Regulations Paragraph 392 (xvi) No longer physically fit to serve. Reason Gun Shot Wound. Serving with the 5th Battalion.

(The Long, Long Trail tells us that the 2/5th Battalion was disbanded in December 1917. There would however have been a small admin cadre to take care of the final bits of winding things up. I suspect that the disbandment may have accelerated the discharge as an alternative to posting him to another home service only Battalion.)

 

Expanding the search for men with nearby service numbers for his initial period of service may turn up evidence of which battalion he was likely to have been posted to first. And there may well be a “magic” set of search criteria, or a different platform to FindMyPast, that will turn up a casualy list for his wounding. There will still be legwork to do – looking at the other Northumberland Fusiliers of the same list who were killed in action, missing as well as wounded to see if a date or small period can be identified.

 

Hope that helps,

Peter

 

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FROGSMILE

1/4th and 1/5th NF received drafts from the No32 Infantry Base Depot at Etaples: 

 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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