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Remembered Today:

Cornish Enlistments Into The Bucks Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

Richard Stiles

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Dear All,

I have a VM to 4846 (later 266905) William Henry Varcoe (1894-1965) 1/1 Bucks Bn, of Roche, Cornwall. While one should never assume, I did assume he relocated to the Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire area, at some point between the time of the 1911 Census and his eventual joining the Battalion. Research, however, has suggested that this is not so. I have identified a block of enlistments in, at least, the number range 4617 (Ernest Grose) to 4979 (Joseph Ching), who enlisted in Cornwall and were approved for service in the Bucks Battalion in the date range 16/3/1916 - 2/4/1916.  Do any members have any information, or suggestions, pertaining to this anomaly please? Sample enlistment cover pages attached.

Kind regards, Richard

4617 Grose Bodmin link.jpg

4824 Letcher Bodmin.jpg

4853 richards Bodmin.jpg

4979 ching Bodmin.jpg

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Not really much of an anomaly by that stage of the war. Cornwall, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire may well have fallen under the same Military Command. You have a mix of Derby Scheme and Conscripts who on mobilisation reported to the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry Depot and are rapidly posted on to wherever there is a capacity to absorb them into a Home Service training battalion. In this case that is almost certainly the 3/1st Buckingham Battalion, (renamed on the 8th April 1916 1st Reserve Buckinghamshire Battalion).

The 1/1st had been in France since March 1915, while the 2/1st would have then been working up to go overseas - it landed in France on the 24th May 1916. See https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/oxfordshire-buckinghamshire-light-infantry/

For comparison Norfolk men reporting to the regimental depot at Norwich at this time were as likely to find themselves posted to the Bedfordshire Regiment, the Northamptonshire Regiment and the Essex Regiment - all four regiments were based in the Eastern Command area. The situation would ebb and flow, with times at which men from Essex and Middlesex would report to their local regimental depot only to find themselves sent off for training with a home service battalion of the Norfolk Regiment. The influx of the Derby Scheme men and conscripts would trigger a number of revisions of the training system during 1916 and 1917, but none of these changes were intended to reflect anything more geographically specific than a Military Command region as far as I can tell - other opinions are available:)

In theory the Derby Scheme men, if they expressed a unit preference when they initially signed up, would be sent to a home service unit of their preferred choice, but in practice this fundamental incentive for signing up under the scheme was all too easily ditched. The conscripts of course didn't even have any say in where they were posted.


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