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Remembered Today:

Army Recruiting Staff and Barrack Room Wardens


Tom P-C

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Hi All,

Do we think that Army Recruiting Staff (who wore a crownless GvR cypher cap badge) and Barrack Room Wardens (GvR cypher with crown, along with other units) were civilians (albeit often former servicemen) rather than corps of the British Army?

If anyone knows anything about the precise unit titles, dates of formation etc. I would be glad to hear from you.

Thanks and best wishes,

Tom

Edited by Tom P-C
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Yes, they were civilian graded war office employees, specifically employed for those roles.  They wore a uniform in the same way that war office messengers, doormen, watchmen, patrolmen (all uniformed grades), and the original, military prisons staff did (pre MPS).  As regards special (“pensioner”) recruiters and barrack wardens, both were exclusively recruited from former servicemen in peacetime, but during WW1 demand exceeding supply led to other former public servants being employed on short contracts for the duration of the war.  

The pensioner recruiters worked for district recruiting officers (retired commissioned officers, often but not always retired quartermasters and riding masters) from offices at the District HQs.  The District HQs (usually just a small building with a few offices) were subordinates of, and reported to their superiors at the regional Command HQs (Northern, Western, Scottish, etc), that were much bigger affairs.  Naturally they usually lived locally and were expected to make themselves known to the local worthies in order to promote local recruiting.  Similarly, barracks wardens were subordinates of barracks masters (also retired commissioned officers of a similar ilk to the recruiters mentioned previously).
i.e. neither function belonged to corps, or units in terms of wearing their insignia, but were war office civilian employees subordinate to the Adjutant General (for recruiting) and Quarter-Master General (for barracks) respectively.  For insignia: https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/135693-unknown-cap-badge-gvr/page/2/?tab=comments#comment-3022401

 

NB.  The recruiting staff continued in existence until very recently (I was a selection officer with them for 2-years) until the entire recruiting effort was contracted out to I think SERCO some years ago.  The barracks organisation moved through various organisations until becoming a responsibility of directly employed civil servants of the MOD under an organisation called Defence Land Agency.  For a 2-year period as a QM I interfaced with their local, senior staff known at the time as Property Managers (aka PROPMAN), very few of them were ex servicemen.  Uniforms are no longer worn other than by a small rump of recruiting sergeants (you could get the entire army’s supply into a 30 seater coach with room to spare), who provide the military link with SERCO.

Edited by FROGSMILE
Typo
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When the 14th Royal Warwickshire arrived at Codford in August 1915, it found the huts in a filthy condition. The barrack warden tried to confiscate private property, much of which had been donated by the citizens of Birmingham; eventually most of it was sold to Salisbury tradesmen, but there was a long argument with the warden over the battalion flag.

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57 minutes ago, Moonraker said:

When the 14th Royal Warwickshire arrived at Codford in August 1915, it found the huts in a filthy condition. The barrack warden tried to confiscate private property, much of which had been donated by the citizens of Birmingham; eventually most of it was sold to Salisbury tradesmen, but there was a long argument with the warden over the battalion flag.

Yes, the friction between barracks wardens and unit QM’s staffs was legendary and invariably an area fraught with potential difficulties.  The former was responsible for the upkeep and good condition of his barracks infrastructure, and always looking for damages and the culprits for it.  On their part the latter were trying to upkeep the reputation of their unit and at the same time make sure that it was not billed unfairly or unjustly by the barracks organisation.  It was a constant battle.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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54 minutes ago, Terry_Reeves said:

They did indeed come under the ASC by WW1 Terry.  I think they were placed there following one of the Victorian era reforms of the 1890s that came into effect after the Boer War (under Brackenbury’s recommendations).  There’s good information about the investigations and subsequent reforms in books by Spiers and Skelley.  It was moved around quite a lot. First to the original Army Service Corps (ASC) created in 1869, then the Control Department of the 1880s and finally to the new ASC in the 1890s.  It was essentially a battle to maintain overall civilian control.  The main point is that they did not wear ASC insignia.

NB.  That period was one of great turmoil for the service support elements of the British Army and did not fully settle down until after 1918.

Edited by FROGSMILE
Clarity
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Thank you all (especially Frogsmile for the very detailed information) for your answers.  Question answered to perfection.

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