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Remembered Today:

HLI Re-numbering (If Any)


Tom Lang
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My grandfather was KIA 24th April, 1917, while serving with the 14th Bn HLI.
I have attached his MIC showing his number is 37091.
A couple of days ago, while searching The British Newspaper Archives on another project, I found the attached newspaper clipping taken from page 2 of the Carluke & Lanark Gazette, 26th May, 1917.
The newspaper clipping describes my grandfather correctly, except the number shows 24748. 
All the information I have regarding my grandfather confirms his number is 30791.
The newspaper clipping states that he enlisted in November, 1916.
I download all 14th HLI from the CWGC, then sorted this by 'Service Number'.
There are:
3 entries for 241xx series.
3 entries for 242xx series.
1 entry for 242xxx series.
1 entry for 249xx series.
There are no numbers in the series 247xx.
May I ask the gurus of the GWF if they have any information on the 'possible' re-numbering of the HLI between November, 1916, and 24th April, 1917.
Otherwise, am I safe to assume that since this is a newspaper article I should take this as a 'probable' numbering error in the article?
Kindest Regards,
Tom.

Lang Robert - Pte 37091 14th Bn HLI - British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Card.jpg

1917 May 26 - Carluke and Lanark Gazette p2 - Robert Lang 24748 HLI.jpg

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The number 24748 would have been his Training Reserve Battalion number - strictly it would have been TR/2/24748.

The service record for 37093 James McHarrie (HLI) survives showing that he was formerly TR/2/24751

Regards

 

Russ

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19 hours ago, RussT said:

The number 24748 would have been his Training Reserve Battalion number - strictly it would have been TR/2/24748.

The service record for 37093 James McHarrie (HLI) survives showing that he was formerly TR/2/24751

Regards

 

Russ

There's a reason why you are a 'guru', and more proof that it's always worthwhile being a member of the GWF.
Thank you very much.
Tom.

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It seems evident that he joined the 78th Training Reserve Battalion (ex 19/HLI) at Montrose on or about 8th December 1916.

He would have been numbered to the HLI upon his transfer to them at the 21st Infantry Base Depot, Etaples, on 02/03/1917 joining the 14/HLI in the field on 23/03/1917.

The War Diary for the 14/HLI states that 114 Other Ranks joined them on the 23rd March 1917.

Regards

Russ

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3 hours ago, RussT said:

It seems evident that he joined the 78th Training Reserve Battalion (ex 19/HLI) at Montrose on or about 8th December 1916.

He would have been numbered to the HLI upon his transfer to them at the 21st Infantry Base Depot, Etaples, on 02/03/1917 joining the 14/HLI in the field on 23/03/1917.

The War Diary for the 14/HLI states that 114 Other Ranks joined them on the 23rd March 1917.

Regards

Russ

Hello Russ,

Well, there was I, happily trundling along and checking with the LLT and other documents, and you then tell me "It seems evident...".

I found on the LLT http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/training-reserve/
the following possibilities:
Res Bde TR Bn   Origin             Location Prefix
12th     52nd     13th (Res) Bn, HLI Leven    TR/2
18th     78th     19th (Res) Bn, HLI Montrose TR/2
18th     79th     20th (Res) Bn, HLI Montrose TR/2

So I'm thinking you know more regarding 21st IBD at Etaples.

The WD does show:
23 Mar, 1917 - Reinforcements 114 O.R.

But also:
25 Mar, 1917 - Reinforcements 43 O.R.
25 Mar, 1917 - Capt STEVENSON transferred from ‘D’ Coy to ‘B’ Coy & takes over command.

Capt STEVENSON who was my grandfather's CO, wrote a letter, dated 11 May, 1917, to my grandmother which states "... so far as I can discover he was killed outright by a shell first before our first wave went forward.
Your husband was one of the last draft which came to my company...".
Hmmm...

So if Capt STEVENSON is exactly correct, my grandfather arrived with the 43 OR reinforcements on 25th March, 1917 - the same day that Capt STEVENSON took command of 'B' Company. The letter is signed "W.G. Stevenson, Captain, 'B' Coy 14th HLI".
(Though it might be possible that my grandfather was in either group of reinforcements).

So I'm intrigued in your "... 78th Training Reserve Battalion (ex 19/HLI) at Montrose on or about 8th December 1916".

May I assume that you have links or info regarding your "... numbered to the HLI upon his transfer to them at the 21st Infantry Base Depot, Etaples, on 02/03/1917 joining the 14/HLI in the field on 23/03/1917"?

I am thankful and grateful for your help in this matter. You have helped to fill, and reveal, many of the jigsaw pieces in a previously incomplete history.

Tom.

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Hi Tom

I did spot in the 14/HLI War Diary that a further 43 ORs joined on 25th March 1917 but I just plumped for the 23rd March with 114 ORs arriving as that was the date in the service record of 37093 James McHarrie (HLI), and I made the reasonable assumption that Lang accompanied his contemporary in that draft. I think that is still likely given that the quote by Captain Stevenson says "one of the last drafts". Either way it seems reasonably certain that Lang joined the 14/HLI in the field on either the 23rd or 25th March - noting of course nothing can be 100% certain without a service record for Lang.

The other information I provided derives from an appreciation of service numbers and how they were allotted - noting that this is not exact science.

Each Training Reserve Battalion (TRB) allotted their own service numbers. Given the similarity in TRB numbers between McHarrie and Lang and that the former was in the 78/TRB, then I concluded that Lang was likewise in that TRB.

Numbers from each block of numbers were normally allotted in chronological order. Given that McHarrie was allotted his number upon joining the 78/TRB on 8th December 1916, I concluded that Lang also joined that TRB on or about that date.

McHarrie departed for the BEF on 1st March 1917, arriving on the 2nd March at the 21st Infantry Base Depot (IBD) at Etaples. Here he was cap-badged to the HLI and re-numbered accordingly with the HLI number 37093. Blocks of regimental service numbers were issued to Depots overseas for precisely this reason, and these numbers were also issued sequentially. Given that Lang has the HLI number 37091, then it can be concluded that he was allotted that number at the same time and same place as McHarrie.

It is also worth noting that, although Infantry Base Depots were originally set up to serve the reinforcements needs of the Division of the same number i.e. 21st IBD for the 21st Division, from mid 1916 the IBDs were re-organised to serve the needs of certain Regiments. 21/IBD served the needs of the King's Own Scottish Borderers and the Highland Light Infantry. So McHarrie's (& Lang's) presence at 21/IBD is fully consistent with that arrangement.

To repeat, nothing can be certain without a service record for an individual but I would be confident that the assessment of Lang's movements during this time is a reasonable one - and that was the reason why I chose the words "seems evident" at the beginning of my post.

There are a few more service records with near-HLI numbers that have survived in what is likely to be a sizable draft of men. My advice would be to look at them all to help establish a firmer picture of Lang's probable movements.

Regards

Russ

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, RussT said:

Hi Tom

I did spot in the 14/HLI War Diary that a further 43 ORs joined on 25th March 1917 but I just plumped for the 23rd March with 114 ORs arriving as that was the date in the service record of 37093 James McHarrie (HLI), and I made the reasonable assumption that Lang accompanied his contemporary in that draft. I think that is still likely given that the quote by Captain Stevenson says "one of the last drafts". Either way it seems reasonably certain that Lang joined the 14/HLI in the field on either the 23rd or 25th March - noting of course nothing can be 100% certain without a service record for Lang.

The other information I provided derives from an appreciation of service numbers and how they were allotted - noting that this is not exact science.

Each Training Reserve Battalion (TRB) allotted their own service numbers. Given the similarity in TRB numbers between McHarrie and Lang and that the former was in the 78/TRB, then I concluded that Lang was likewise in that TRB.

Numbers from each block of numbers were normally allotted in chronological order. Given that McHarrie was allotted his number upon joining the 78/TRB on 8th December 1916, I concluded that Lang also joined that TRB on or about that date.

McHarrie departed for the BEF on 1st March 1917, arriving on the 2nd March at the 21st Infantry Base Depot (IBD) at Etaples. Here he was cap-badged to the HLI and re-numbered accordingly with the HLI number 37093. Blocks of regimental service numbers were issued to Depots overseas for precisely this reason, and these numbers were also issued sequentially. Given that Lang has the HLI number 37091, then it can be concluded that he was allotted that number at the same time and same place as McHarrie.

It is also worth noting that, although Infantry Base Depots were originally set up to serve the reinforcements needs of the Division of the same number i.e. 21st IBD for the 21st Division, from mid 1916 the IBDs were re-organised to serve the needs of certain Regiments. 21/IBD served the needs of the King's Own Scottish Borderers and the Highland Light Infantry. So McHarrie's (& Lang's) presence at 21/IBD is fully consistent with that arrangement.

To repeat, nothing can be certain without a service record for an individual but I would be confident that the assessment of Lang's movements during this time is a reasonable one - and that was the reason why I chose the words "seems evident" at the beginning of my post.

There are a few more service records with near-HLI numbers that have survived in what is likely to be a sizable draft of men. My advice would be to look at them all to help establish a firmer picture of Lang's probable movements.

Regards

Russ

 

 

 

I am thoroughly impressed, grateful and thankful for your analysis.

I will now research those similar soldiers' numbers.

I would also add that it becomes deeply personal when 'discovering' the path my grandfather took.

Thanks once again, and I will keep you informed of what I find re these other soldiers.

Kindest Regards,

Tom

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2 minutes ago, Tom Lang said:

I would also add that it becomes deeply personal when 'discovering' the path my grandfather took.

Agree - I've done exactly that for my Great Uncle whose file, like many others, is also missing. It's quite amazing how much you can piece together from various sources using various tools and methods.

Russ

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On 21/07/2021 at 08:55, RussT said:

Agree - I've done exactly that for my Great Uncle whose file, like many others, is also missing. It's quite amazing how much you can piece together from various sources using various tools and methods.

Russ

Hello Russ,
I looked at 6 numbers before and after my grandfather's number 37091 (TR/2/24748).
You had identified 37093 (TR/2/24751) Pte James McHarrie.
I found 2 others 37079 (TR/2/24725) and 37087 (TR/2/24743) in the 6 previous numbers, and none in the 6 following.
Neither of the 2 others I found, had any Service Records or Discharge Documents on Fold3 or Ancestry (spit).
Using the Discharge Documents of McHarrie (10 pages) I am able to discern:.
Page 02: He First Joined for Duty on 8th December, 1916 at Montrose.
Page 06: He Enlisted at Dumfries on 29th February, 1916, and was posted to 78th Training Reserve Battalion (Montrose).
Page 11: He Embarked and Disembarked on 1st March, 1917 (France).
Page 11: He Joined 21st Infantry Base Depot (Etaples) on 2nd March, 1917.
Page 11: He Joined 14th Battalion HLI in the Field on 23rd March, 1917 (Part of the 114 Other Ranks who joined on the 23rd March 1917.).

From the above, and with your help, I am able to deduce that my grandfather followed the same path to France.

Kindest Regards,
Tom.

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33 minutes ago, Tom Lang said:

Page 06: He Enlisted at Dumfries on 29th February, 1916, and was posted to 78th Training Reserve Battalion (Montrose).

McHarrie was a Derby Scheme volunteer meaning that he attested on 29th Feb 1916. He was then placed immediately on the Army Reserve until he was mobilised on the 8th December 1916 - and it was only then that he was posted to, and thus joined, 78/TRB.

Regards

Russ

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