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Remembered Today:

The Manchesters - Regular and New Army Battalions


Kenneth Wright
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I am researching Pte. Wilfrid Henry John (his names variously spelled in records as Wilfred and Johns).

Wilfrid served in the 2nd Manchesters and 11th Manchesters with the same reg. no. 2574.

The 2nd Manchesters were serving in Ireland before moving to the Western Front in August 1914.

I have seen a record which states that Wilfrid was admitted to 15th Field Ambulance on 22nd September 1914 (noted as having been with the battalion for one year i.e. mid-1913) suffering from influenza, while the battalion was in the Aisne area.

Thereafter, I have found no records for him until 1915 when, while serving with the 11th Manchesters in Gallipoli, the War Diary records that he was killed by an accidental gunshot wound to the leg on 24th October.

Does anyone have any information or an opinion as to why Wilfrid was transferred from 2nd to 11th (new battalion formed in August 1914) and when this may have taken place. Was it possible that the new battalion was strengthened by the transfer of experienced regulars prior to being sent to Gallipoli ?

Could Wilfrid’s temporary absence from 2nd through illness have been an influencing factor in, upon his return to fitness, his transfer to an alternative battalion ?

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1 hour ago, Kenneth Wright said:

I am researching Pte. Wilfrid Henry John (his names variously spelled in records as Wilfred and Johns).

Wilfrid served in the 2nd Manchesters and 11th Manchesters with the same reg. no. 2574.

The 2nd Manchesters were serving in Ireland before moving to the Western Front in August 1914.

I have seen a record which states that Wilfrid was admitted to 15th Field Ambulance on 22nd September 1914 (noted as having been with the battalion for one year i.e. mid-1913) suffering from influenza, while the battalion was in the Aisne area.

Thereafter, I have found no records for him until 1915 when, while serving with the 11th Manchesters in Gallipoli, the War Diary records that he was killed by an accidental gunshot wound to the leg on 24th October.

Does anyone have any information or an opinion as to why Wilfrid was transferred from 2nd to 11th (new battalion formed in August 1914) and when this may have taken place. Was it possible that the new battalion was strengthened by the transfer of experienced regulars prior to being sent to Gallipoli ?

Could Wilfrid’s temporary absence from 2nd through illness have been an influencing factor in, upon his return to fitness, his transfer to an alternative battalion ?

A likely scenario from an Army administrative viewpoint is that after a period recovering from influenza he was sent to the regimental depot/training battalion - you must remember there were no antibiotics then so either your antibodies defeated it over time, or you died.  Being young, otherwise healthy and fit was the best defence.  From the depot and a period of light duties while he convalesced, he would once fully fit be deployed as a reinforcement to one of the regimental units on a basis of need at the time.  That early in the war the reserve/training battalions for both, New Army and TF units, were still evolving and it was only really the special reserve battalions that functioned methodically, and even they were struggling with the volumes of men.  It took until late 1916, early 1917 before a smooth running battle casualty replacement organisation was fully and widely established.

All that is conjecture and just my take on a probable, but not definite scenario.  Someone like @kenf48might be able to put more flesh on the bones that you have.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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1 hour ago, Kenneth Wright said:

I am researching Pte. Wilfrid Henry John (his names variously spelled in records as Wilfred and Johns).

Wilfrid served in the 2nd Manchesters and 11th Manchesters with the same reg. no. 2574.

Looking at the Medal Rolls on Ancestry there were a number of men who transferred to the 11th Battalion from the regular battalions to replace battlefield losses.  It is possible he was drafted to the 11th before they went overseas but I think that scenario is unlikely.

 Pte John appears to have enlisted under regular terms (7 years with the Colours, 5 on Reserve) at the beginning of May 1913.  The Battalion was at the Curragh when war was declared and Pte. John landed in France with the main body of the 2nd Battalion on the 15th August 1914.

The service record of 9695 Boulton has survived.  He originally enlisted in 1904 and was a reservist when war was declared. Mobilised to the 2nd Bn. he was wounded in October 1914 and posted to the 3rd (Depot or Reserve) Battalion.  This was usually an administrative posting whilst in hospital.  I don't think your man would have been repatriated for influenza unless he was very sick.  Illness was not included in the casualty lists so they may be worth a look.

On recovering from his wound Pte Boulton was posted from the 3rd Battalion to the 11th Battalion on the 28th August 1915.  The Battalion landed at Suvla on the 6/7 August under very heavy fire.  This means Pte Boulton was in either the first or second reinforcement draft from the UK and I'd suggest the 28th August was the embarkation date.  He was kia on the 9th October 1915.

The war diary records the strength of the Battalion sailing from Mudros was 900/899 other ranks but after landing  at Suvla was down to 750 other ranks.  They suffered 250 casualties (dead wounded and missing) getting ashore.  There were 234 men in the first reinforcement which joined the Battalion on the 9th September and a further 188 in the second which joined on the 13th September.

 

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21 minutes ago, kenf48 said:

Looking at the Medal Rolls on Ancestry there were a number of men who transferred to the 11th Battalion from the regular battalions to replace battlefield losses.  It is possible he was drafted to the 11th before they went overseas but I think that scenario is unlikely.

 Pte John appears to have enlisted under regular terms (7 years with the Colours, 5 on Reserve) at the beginning of May 1913.  The Battalion was at the Curragh when war was declared and Pte. John landed in France with the main body of the 2nd Battalion on the 15th August 1914.

The service record of 9695 Boulton has survived.  He originally enlisted in 1904 and was a reservist when war was declared. Mobilised to the 2nd Bn. he was wounded in October 1914 and posted to the 3rd (Depot or Reserve) Battalion.  This was usually an administrative posting whilst in hospital.  I don't think your man would have been repatriated for influenza unless he was very sick.  Illness was not included in the casualty lists so they may be worth a look.

On recovering from his wound Pte Boulton was posted from the 3rd Battalion to the 11th Battalion on the 28th August 1915.  The Battalion landed at Suvla on the 6/7 August under very heavy fire.  This means Pte Boulton was in either the first or second reinforcement draft from the UK and I'd suggest the 28th August was the embarkation date.  He was kia on the 9th October 1915.

The war diary records the strength of the Battalion sailing from Mudros was 900/899 other ranks but after landing  at Suvla was down to 750 other ranks.  They suffered 250 casualties (dead wounded and missing) getting ashore.  There were 234 men in the first reinforcement which joined the Battalion on the 9th September and a further 188 in the second which joined on the 13th September.

 

Brilliant stuff Ken and exactly what I’d had in my mind.  It’s intriguing to dwell/consider whether he’d been evacuated with a particularly bad bout of influenza, or if he was somehow wounded in circumstances we don’t yet know of.  I agree that wounding seems more likely, but I don’t know what the statistics were for men evacuated sick rather than wounded during that early period.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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13 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

I agree that wounding seems more likely

Found him in a casualty list in the Manchester Evening News 16 November 1914, reporting on the six hospital convoys that had arrived in the city from the 1st November.  He was in the first, i.e. on the 1st.

His wound was described as 'slight' but serious enough to be repatriated and in an age without antibiotics 'slight' depends on your point of view.  Sounds like a classic 'Blighty' wound.  It therefore remains a matter for debate as to whether he recovered in time to be posted overseas with the 11th in June, or in the desperately needed reinforcements in September.  

 I'd go with the latter with the caveat that we should not rely on just one record but they needed to find the reinforcements from somewhere, as previously noted there are number in the Rolls so perhaps find more examples to confirm.

One of the other Manchester newspapers printed how casualties were recovering but only gave the number so it is confusing as 2574 was also allocated to TF soldiers.

 

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On 15/03/2022 at 12:44, kenf48 said:

Found him in a casualty list in the Manchester Evening News 16 November 1914, reporting on the six hospital convoys that had arrived in the city from the 1st November.  He was in the first, i.e. on the 1st.

His wound was described as 'slight' but serious enough to be repatriated and in an age without antibiotics 'slight' depends on your point of view.  Sounds like a classic 'Blighty' wound.  It therefore remains a matter for debate as to whether he recovered in time to be posted overseas with the 11th in June, or in the desperately needed reinforcements in September.  

 I'd go with the latter with the caveat that we should not rely on just one record but they needed to find the reinforcements from somewhere, as previously noted there are number in the Rolls so perhaps find more examples to confirm.

One of the other Manchester newspapers printed how casualties were recovering but only gave the number so it is confusing as 2574 was also allocated to TF soldiers.

 

Agreed on all counts.  I can just see the reinforcements clerk adding his name to the nominal roll of the draft containing ‘available’ battle casualty replacements…

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Thanks to all contributors for the detailed information provided which has been of great assistance.
 
Kenneth Wright
 
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