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Remembered Today:

2nd Bn. Royal Sussex Regt. Nominal Roll of NCO's & OR's 1914-18


JMB1943
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Inspired by the tale (above) of a 70-man cohort sent as a draft to the 8th KORL, I have set out to research the fates of the 74-man cohort that was a similar reinforcement for the 2nd Bn. Royal Sussex Regiment (2 RSR) in France.

My grandfather (C.E. Ballard, Pte GSSR/811) had volunteered  on October 19, 1914, and was one of the 74 men.

The draft embarked/disembarked on January 11, 1915 and joined the battalion on January18, presumably after a week of training in trench warfare at an Infantry Base depot (IBD).

The starting point for me will be (The West Sussex Records Office willing) a photocopy of the 349-page nominal roll which lists the 6,000+ names of the men who entered 2 RSR during 1914-18.

I have a photo (shown below & kindly provided by Forum member, Mandy Hall) of the page that shows my grandfather's name, and of course I immediately need some help (sse below).

image.png.2fa8803176eda83cdbf343eba698bbb5.png

Q1: where was the IBD for the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division of BEF?

Observations from this page of the Roll

1) The first 12 men listed all embarked for France on Jan. 11

2) The first 3 men have no "Date to Bn." Two returned to England (no reason??), while the third was "killed" in May [NOT KiA] accident??

3) The next 5 men (Ballard to Buckwell, inclusive) have the same "Date to Bn" of 18-1-15, so are presumably part of the 74-man cohort.

4) 3 of these 5 men very soon to HP (hospital?) due presumably to fever from the vaccinations. How close to shipping overseas were vaccines administered? Or were they given upon arrival in France?

5) Between to HP (3/2/15) and to Bn (27/9/15), where is my grandfather sent to on 8/8/15 ??

Regards,

JMB

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Hi JMB

interesting idea, to follow this group of men, I hadn’t seen the blog you linked to above.

I will PM you when I get back from work tonight, how I can possibly help.

Just a few thoughts.  Getting WSRO to copy the volume would be very expensive.  They wouldn’t do it in the old fashioned sense of photo copying.  They have like a scanner thing, if they would actually do it.  You might run into copyright issues, with them if you want the whole volume.  They might let me photograph, just the bits of the pages you want, with the men that crossed on the 11th.

However I do think Martin (who did a lot of research on the 2nd Batt) had a copy.  His posts are still on the forum as Guest posts and he has sadly since died.  Might take a bit of digging on the forum, there were/are people on the forum that researched with him.  Don’t know what has happened to his research, he may have donated it to WSRO.

By coincidence I just brought a set of medals to a man that crossed to France on the 11 January 1915 with the 2nd Batt RSR, later transferring to the 7th Batt RSR, my main interest.

All the best

Mandy

 

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What are the fourth, fifth and sixth column headers?
'Emb'd,' 'To Bn', 'Comments'?

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This is my take on what the columns mean.

The date in the 4th column is the date, the soldier went to France and is usually the same date that is on a MIC.  
5th column which does not always have a date, is the date they joined the battalion in France.

 6th Column, comments, I don’t think this shows a soldiers whole service in shorthand.  For lots of soldiers is does show wounding dates, dates for going to England and dates of returning.  It also shows transfers between battalions.  If you look at Pte Bowley on the page JMB has shown, it shows date of transfer to the 7th Batt of 28th July 1915.  A date you would never know, unless he has a service record.  That date 28th July seems to be a common theme and also applies to the man whose medals I just purchased.  Bowley does move Battalions again (see his medal roll on ancestry) on an unknown date.  
 

Mandy

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Hello Mandy,

I’m very glad to see you posting here, and I never would have thought to search MG’s old posts!

At the moment I’m having a little merry go-round with the WSRO, after having requested the possibility of buying a photo copy of the whole thing.

They have sent me a couple of indices that were compiled from the original nominal roll, but don’t seem to recognize that I do need to see the original.

I have just this afternoon sent them the ledger page, shown above, that you had photographed for me about 7 yrs ago.

We will see what tomorrow’s email brings in response, although I suspect that they may be very unwilling to let me have the full document.

Do Pte. Bowley’s medals bear 2 RSR or 7 RSR or his last battalion?

Regards,

JMB

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Well time flies can’t believe it was 7 years ago.  Good luck with WSRO.  I might be wrong but I think you could be looking at a £600 plus bill, as every page is double sided.

I was just using Pte  Bowley as an example of how useful these records are.

Mandy

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Do you have access to the Ancestry medal rolls? If so, how many - of the 74 men embarked/disembarked on January 11, 1915 - have you been able to positively identify?

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Keith,

I have not yet started the process yet, because I have neither an Ancestry subscription nor a list of names from the nominal roll.

Once I have the latter, I can join Ancestry to flesh out the personal details.

Regards,

JMB

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My understanding would be that step one would be to get access to Ancestry. Step two would be to go through the images of the medal rolls for the Royal Sussex Regiment, noting down the name of each soldier who embarked/disembarked on January 11, 1915 

Then, you can determine how many out of 74 that you have been able to identify.

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Keith,

Thank you for that info.

I have not had Ancestry for over 6 years, so did not know what info could be gleaned from the medal rolls.

However, I should have known because of the differentiation of the 1914 and 1914/15 Stars.

Methinks it’s time for some brain food!

Regards,

JMB

 

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On 16/03/2022 at 22:47, JMB1943 said:

Observations from this page of the Roll

5) Between to HP (3/2/15) and to Bn (27/9/15), where is my grandfather sent to on 8/8/15 ??

Regards,

JMB

Ref Q5, probably just coincidence but 08/08/1915 is the embarkation date of the 4th Bn to Gallipoli

Regards

Roy

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Roy,

Interesting coincidence indeed, but that is all it is.

My g’father had served in 2 RSR as a regular in 1902-5, so I now think the posting was “to tr(aining) Bn” presumably the 3rd Bn back at the depot in Chichester, to help bring the new recruits up to speed.

Regards,

JMB

 

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Three weeks into my magnum opus, and things have started to go awry!

Mandy Hall has very kindly sent me a photo of each page, similar to that shown in the OP, of the 2 RSR Ledger that bears the names of men who disembarked in France on 11-1-15; these surnames start with every letter of the alphabet except U, X, Y and Z.

I have, as suggested, trawled the 1915 Star Rolls for 2 RSR.

The problem arises from the different numbers that result. Remembering that my g'father had disembarked 11-1-15 and had joined battalion on 18-1-15, we have as follows:-

(1) Reinforcement to 2 Bn RSR, 18-11-15 (War Diary).............74 OR's

(2) Men disembarked on 11-1-15 (Ledger).................................124 OR's

(3) Men disembarked on 11-1-15 (1915 Star Roll)....................128 OR's

(4) Men who joined Bn on 18-1-15 (Ledger).................................40 OR's

I can accept the discrepancy between the entries of (2) and (3), they are close enough to allow for mis-counting by me.

The spoiler is the Bn Ledger, which records who disembarked on Jan. 11 & joined the Bn on January 18, 1915 for only 40 men.

According to the National Army Museum (London), "1st Battalion remained in India and 2nd Battalion on the Western Front throughout the First World War (1914-18). The regiment also formed 19 Territorial and New Army battalions during the conflict. These served in SalonikaPalestineMesopotamia, India and Russia."

However, the 7th (Service) Bn. RSR did serve in France, but did not disembark at Boulogne until the night of May 31-June 1, 1915 so some of the 124 OR's were clearly not intended for it. 

Were (124 - 74) = 50 men held at the IBD after Jan. 18 for extra training?

The next reinforcement is of 46 men arriving at Bn on Feb. 7, 1915 (War Diary).

Regards,

JMB 

 

 

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46 minutes ago, JMB1943 said:

4) Men who joined Bn on 18-1-15 (Ledger).................................40 OR's

Just taking the 3rd man on the sample page you posted originally, Booth 10339. He was 2ndBn and was missing with D Company 9/5/15. Subsequently recorded as KiA. As I read it you have not included him in your 40? Could there be others like this where their date to 2ndBn is nor recorded?

Charlie 

Ditto Brooks 1320 further down the page. KiA with 2nd Bn 9/5/15. How have you classed him?

Edited by charlie962
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1 minute ago, charlie962 said:

Just taking the 3rd man on the sample page you posted originally, Booth 10339. He was 2ndBn and was missing with D Company 9/5/15. Subsequently recorded as KiA. As I read it you have not included him in your 40? Could there be others like this where their date to 2ndBn is nor recorded?

Charlie

Absolutely, yes he could be one of the missing 34 names required to make up the 74 total. 

The obvious way to crack this would be to check the service records of all 124 men who disembarked on 11-Jan-15.

I have done this for the B-surname group only so far, and unfortunately their records are ALL in the burned category, i.e. not surviving.

With some luck, I guesstimate that I may get a very few (2-3??) from the remaining names in the C-Z block.

Regards,

JMB

 

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From a couple of service records I saw in the B group, there is an entry 11/1/15 posted to 2ndBn, but there is no entry a few days later 'joined Bn in the field'.

When you are looking for service records, if you haven't done so already, do put a * before the service number because the SVC records often/ mostly have a prefix letter or two. I have been using Findmypast and this made all the difference. There are quite a few surviving records but it was inconclusive for the reason I've noted. However it is possible the men who were returned to UK within a couple of weeks for health never made it to the front. Does the war diary suggest any men sent back a few day after the Draft arrived?

Charlie 

Ps, I consider Ancestry a disgrace when trying to to find Service records due to their abismal transcription control. I would strongly recommend Findmypast for this sort of exercise.

Edited by charlie962
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JMB,

On holiday in Wales with the young ones this week but back at the weekend.  My Blog on my Great Uncles draft into the 8th KORL was a real journey of learning for me.  I will help as I can as you progress.  To start with i recommend you open an excel table!   if you wish I can email you mine for the 70 KORL men to give you some ideas perhaps?  

Andy

Edited by AndrewSid
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15 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

From a couple of service records I saw in the B group, there is an entry 11/1/15 posted to 2ndBn, but there is no entry a few days later 'joined Bn in the field'.

When you are looking for service records, if you haven't done so already, do put a * before the service number because the SVC records often/ mostly have a prefix letter or two. I have been using Findmypast and this made all the difference. There are quite a few surviving records but it was inconclusive for the reason I've noted. However it is possible the men who were returned to UK within a couple of weeks for health never made it to the front. Does the war diary suggest any men sent back a few day after the Draft arrived?

Charlie

Charlie,

I originally searched for Service Rcord via the name, but will try your suggestion--Thanks!

No mention of any men returned to England in the WD.

Regards,

JMB

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5 minutes ago, AndrewSid said:

JMB,

On holiday in Wales with the young ones this week but back at the weekend.  My Blog on my Great Uncles draft into the 8th KORL was a real journey of learning for me.  I will help as I can as you progress.  To start with i recommend you open an excel table!   if you wish I can email you mine for the 70 KORL men to give you some ideas perhaps?  

Andy

Andy,

Thanks for chronicling the story of the draft of which your great-uncle was a member.

Excel spreadsheet was my very FIRST step and I have the following headers,

Regtl. No./ Rank/ Surname/ Initls/ Date to Bn/ Survived War (Y/N)/ MIC (Y/N)/ Srvc Recd (Y/N)/ CWGC (Y/N) / SWB (Y/N)/ Outcome (KiA; DoW; Dischg; Demob; Class Z)/ Date

Are there other categories that you found helpful?

Regards,

JMB

 

 

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2 hours ago, JMB1943 said:

The next reinforcement is of 46 men arriving at Bn on Feb. 7, 1915 (War Diary).

Regards,

JMB 

 

 

It has just occurred to me that any man on the dis-embarked list for Jan. 11 and killed/wounded between Jan. 18 and Feb. 7 must (??) have been in the 74-man draft.

Regards,

JMB

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1 minute ago, JMB1943 said:

must (??) have been in the 74-man draft.

If he died as a 2nd Bn man. Were there other drafts following soon after that arriving 18/1 ?

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19 hours ago, charlie962 said:

If he died as a 2nd Bn man. Were there other drafts following soon after that arriving 18/1 ?

Charlie,

Yes, as noted earlier, the next reinforcement draft to 2 RSR arrived on Feb. 7, 1915. 

2 RSR was the only Sussex battalion serving in France at this time.

The 1/5th (Cinque Ports) RSR did not disembark in France until Feb. 18, 1915 whilst the 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 12th and 13th Bns RSR disembarked no sooner than June 1, 1915 and later.

The absence of these units from France in the critical period (Jan. 18 to Feb. 7) verifies the statement in my last post.

Regards,

JMB

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Ok. I missed that ref!

3 minutes ago, JMB1943 said:

verifies the statement in my last post.

Agreed.

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So I have again trawled through the photos of the pages of the 2RSR Ledger; the search criterion was the name of any man who disembarked on Jan. 11, 1915 and was either admitted to hospital or sent back to England, or died on or before Feb. 7, 1915.

This produced a further 24 names, so a total of 64 which is about 86% of the 74-man draft of interest.

I can live with this, although the 124/128 numbers quoted for disembarkation on Jan. 11 and the 1915 Star Medal Rolls are still puzzling.

Viewing photos of photos of a somewhat faded original is much harder than I had imagined.

Regards,

JMB

 

 

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21 minutes ago, JMB1943 said:

can live with this, although the 124/128 numbers quoted for disembarkation on Jan. 11 and the 1915 Star Medal Rolls are still puzzling.

What do you make of the 60 odd that you have excluded? Any pattern? Do they have alternative defined dates for joining Bn?  

Could there be some men with an earlier embarkation date who went into your 74? 

If a man died with 2ndBn any time after landing, shouldn't he be a possible even if we cannot pin his joining date down for certain? Where have Booth and  Brooks, that I mentioned earlier, ended up?

Charlie

Edited by charlie962
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