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Remembered Today:

Enlistment date for Neil Falconer - Highland Light Infantry - service number 36697


Tawhiri

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I have recently decided to circle back around to my maternal great-grandfather, Neil Falconer, who was killed in action on 25 August 1917 while serving with the 18th Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry. I already have copies of everything that survives related to his service, but I was curious to see whether I could pin down an enlistment date for him by looking at the Silver War Badge records for men with similar service numbers who were discharged from the Highland Light Infantry, knowing that these records show the date that a man enlisted. Obviously this is a little crude, and there are always exceptions, but there does appear to be a block of service numbers in the same range as his indicating a potential enlistment date in late February/early March 1917.

Service number Enlistment date
36476 8 February 1917
36587 24 February 1917
36613 26 February 1917
36697 ?
36701 6 March 1917
36703 3 March 1917
36710 5 March 1917
36755 14 March 1917

The Register of Soldiers' Effects shows the amount that was paid to his widow, including the later war gratuity, which was based on his length of service, and I was wondering if the amount shown against his name is indeed compatible with an enlistment date in late February/early March 1917. Allowing for the length of time he was in training, he must have only been in the front lines for a couple of months before being killed.

Image sourced from Ancestry:

42511_6129999_0112-00030.jpg

Edited by Tawhiri
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The War Gratuity is the minimum, paid for 12 months or less service. In this case it unfortunately doesn't tell us much here other then he enlisted after 26 Aug 1916.

Craig

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7 minutes ago, Tawhiri said:

I have recently decided to circle back around to my maternal great-grandfather, Neil Falconer, who was killed in action on 25 August 1917 while serving with the 18th Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry. I already have copies of everything that survives related to his service, but I was curious to see whether I could pin down an enlistment date for him by looking at the Silver War Badge records for men with similar service numbers who were discharged from the Highland Light Infantry, knowing that these records show the date that a man enlisted. Obviously this is a little crude, and there are always exceptions, but there does appear to be a block of service numbers in the same range as his indicating a potential enlistment date in late February/early March 1917.

Service number Enlistment date
36476 8 February 1917
36587 24 February 1917
36613 26 February 1917
36697 ?
36701 6 March 1917
36703 3 March 1917
36710 5 March 1917
36755 14 March 1917

The Register of Soldiers' Effects shows the amount that was paid to his widow, including the later war gratuity, which was based on his length of service, and I was wondering if the amount shown against his name is indeed compatible with an enlistment date in late February/early March 1917. Allowing for the length of time he was in training, he must have only been in the front lines for a couple of months before being killed.

Image sourced from Ancestry:

 

42511_6129999_0112-00030.jpg

There's no evidence of any previous service on SDGW so I think you're probably OK with the date you have.

Craig

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I'm always wary of using SWB dates for enlistment because of previous units being included.

Using that Service number and looking for near numbers with surviving service records I see:

George Aitchison 36693 Attested (Derby) 2/12/15 but was transferred to Reserve next day. He was the mobilised and posted to the 4th HLI Depot on 5/3/17, at which point that service number will have been issued. He was posted to the 4th Bn HLI on 9/3/17 then to 18th HLI 31/5/17 so it is possible your GGF made same moves. Thereafter paths split.

So this confirms your thinking.

Question for Craig @ss002d6252- does War Grat work from mobilization date or original attestation?

Charlie

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Mathew Selfridge 36708 Attested Nov 1915 but again was trf'd to Reserve next day. Subsequently mobilised 5/3/17  and joined 4 HLI  13/3/17.and posted to 18th Bn with BEF 31/5/17 where he went to 21 Infantry Base Depot before being posted to 2nd Bn 20/6/17 (rather as Aitchison)

 

This leaves the question of whether Falconer was a Derby Scheme man like Aitchison and Selfridge, or was he a conscript?

Falconer appears to have remained with 18th Bn. The spell at 21 Infantry Base Depot must have been much needed by all these men who had only two and a half months training before arriving in France.

 

Charlie

 

PS there is always the potential confusion of the 4th Reserve Battalion ( the initial Depot and training) and the 18th (Service) Bn (4th Glasgow).

Edited by charlie962
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2 hours ago, charlie962 said:

I'm always wary of using SWB dates for enlistment because of previous units being included.

Craig and Charlie, thanks for your useful comments.

I had noted that were several individuals with similar service numbers, who had enlisted much earlier in the war, or indeed pre-war, so my assumption was that they had been transferred to the Highland Light Infantry from another regiment and been given a new service number that was not reflective of their actual length of service and the resulting enlistment date.

The family story is that a group of friends enlisted together, and made a pact to look after the wives and children of any of them who were killed. After the war several of the surviving men and their families emigrated to New Zealand in 1920, and took Neil Falconer's widow and three children with them.  

 

Edited by Tawhiri
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1 hour ago, charlie962 said:

Question for Craig @ss002d6252- does War Grat work from mobilization date or original attestation?

Mobilisation, if later than enlistment (effectively it wasn't paid for any time in the Class B reserve).

Craig

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40 minutes ago, ss002d6252 said:

Mobilisation, if later than enlistment (effectively it wasn't paid for any time in the Class B reserve).

Thanks Craig.

So, Tawhiri, there is the question still open re original Attestation date. Do you know the names of any of those friends who emigrated?

Charlie

PS I think I see wife  and 3 kids on SS Ionic? but not obviously names alongside because list is in alpha order.

Edited by charlie962
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Charlie

Yes, that's them on the SS Ionic, ticket number A.6234. I have both their departure from the UK, and arrival in New Zealand, ultimately ending up in Whanganui. I'm not sure who else they came with, I'd need to have a chat with my mother to see if she can provide me with any other names. I might also take a look at the full list of passengers heading for Whanganui, particularly other families, to see if anything pops out. 

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1 minute ago, Tawhiri said:

I might also take a look at the full list of passengers heading for Whanganui, particularly other families, to see if anything pops out. 

I did note Mrs Langlands on same boat, same destination.

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Paul in the Somme - where did you get this fab photo? I am in South Queensferry History Group and he was one of ours. I know he survived the war and died in 1973, but I would love permission to have this image in our archives!

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Hello Neb, thanks for the contact. I have lived in the Somme for 27 years and have always had an interest in WW1. I took this photo in the "Underground City of Naours" which is 20 minutes North of Amiens. The Underground City was dug by the villagers to protect them during the Spanish invasions and the war of religion. In WW1 the Underground City became a tourist attraction for soldiers back from the front line, many were stationed in Vignacourt and at nearby aerodromes. Some 3000 soldiers and airmen wrote their names on the walls during WW1.  Most of the names were written in pencil and because the tunnels are in darkness and at constant temperature and humidity, the. names are perfectly preserved. I have had the honour of accompanying several descendants to the the Underground City to see names written on the walls by their relatives during WW1.

Please use the image in you archives and in return perhaps you could provide me with information on Walter Falconer.

If you would like to visit the tunnels please get in touch

Kind regards

Paul

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Thank you so much Paul, this is very interesting. It gives us another aspect of the war as most of our research has been on those who didn't survive, but we do have some information on men who returned. I am researching Walter. His parents were John and Isabella Falconer who married in June 1890. John was a joiner, as was Walter.  He was born in Abercorn in 1901. His mother died a month later. He is in the 1911 census living in Queensferry with his aunties at No 19 East Terrace which he states in his inscription on the wall. His Grandfather, a bootmaker, died in 1900 and is buried in Dalmeny Cemetery and his grandmother, also a bootmaker, who he was living with in 1901 in Queensferry, died in 1911.  He enlisted in November 1915 aged almost 24 and died in 1973 aged 81.  His Father died 15.4.1927 aged 58. His father had remarried to Helen Findlay in 1895.  If I find anything else interesting re his service I will get back to you. Thank you. Norma

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Hi Norma

Thank you very much for the information on Walter Falconer. I can't wait to see his name on the wall again. It would be great to have some info on his military service to complete the picture. Thanks again, Paul

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Hi Paul, I have been trying to find out more about Walter Falconer. 

Air Mechanic 1st Class 13558 – Walter Falconer a Carpenter, enlisted into the 32nd Squadron, Royal Flying Corps on 3rd November 1915 just before his 24th birthday. His secondary unit training center was in the Curragh, Kildare, Ireland and he was appointed to service in April 1916 after training.  Airforce pay was 4s. 0d for duration of war. He would have been awarded the British War and Victory medals.

His mother died 8 days after his birth with pelvic complications.

No.32 Squadron Royal Flying Corps was formed in Netheravon on 12thJanuary 1916 from a nucleus from 21 Squadron. They proceeded to France on 28th May 1916 as a specialist fighter squadron equipped with new Airco DH2s (The Airco DH.2 was a single-seat pusher biplane fighter aircraft which operated during the First World War). The squadron flew patrols over the Western Front, including over the Somme and Arras battlefields, for a year before beginning to re-equip with the Airco DH 5, specialising in ground attack missions. These in turn began to be replaced by the S.E.5a in December 1917 which were flown for the rest of the war on fighter and ground attack missions. On 1 April 1918 No. 32 became part of the new Royal Air Force as the RFC was disbanded. In March 1919, the squadron returned to the UK as a cadre and disbanded on 29th December 1919. (A Cadre is the complement of commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers of a military unit responsible for training the rest of the unit. The cadre may be the permanent skeleton establishment of a unit, around which the full unit can be built if needed).  (info: Wikipedia and Wartimes Memories Project) 

I can't find anything else, but I am hoping there will still be relatives around, to trace. He had 1 male uncle who I have not looked at yet. His father remarried and lived in Falkirk. He had 6 sons to his second wife. Walter himself only had 1 sister who died aged 4 from TB.

I can't find anything more about his war service as his records are very brief, but I hope this information is helpful. If I do trace any family members, and if they are interested to see the tunnel, I will let you know. Many thanks for this  image once again. Norma

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello Norma, I have not succeeded in sending the email. I get a message saying that the address is invalid. Do you have another email I could use?

 

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29 minutes ago, Paul in the Somme said:

Hello Norma, I have not succeeded in sending the email. I get a message saying that the address is invalid. Do you have another email I could use?

 

The GWF actively discourages the posting of email addresses on the open forum to avoid spammers.

I have deleted the posted email and suggest you use the GWF personal message system. 

Simply click on the name of the member you wish to contact and then open 'Send Message'

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