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Sherwood Foresters recruit 1914/15


timsanders
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I have recently been given letters sent from my great-uncle whilst on training with Sherwood Foresters in Whitley Bay. It's a fascinating description of a 19 year old recruit adjusting to military life early in the war.

At the head of the letter he lists his service number (15727) followed by '4th recruits Notts and Derby' - I'm not familiar with New Army training, but; is the 4th recruits a holding name for a section of men yet to be assigned to a battalion?

Edward Yates went onto to serve in France with the 12th Pioneer Battalion from October 1915 until d.o.w. in June 1917.

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1 hour ago, timsanders said:

I have recently been given letters sent from my great-uncle whilst on training with Sherwood Foresters in Whitley Bay. It's a fascinating description of a 19 year old recruit adjusting to military life early in the war.

Looking at your great uncle's CWGC entry, he would have been 19 years of age in 1914. From the website Battalion History – The Sherwood Foresters (nottsderbysww1.online) it appears that 4th recruits Notts and Derby' was actually the 4th Extra Reserve Battalion which, from 4th August 1914, was stationed at Sunderland, Co Durham as part of the east coast defences. No doubt the 4th would have been spread along the east coast including Whitley Bay (17 miles from Sunderland)

Image courtesy of the above mentioned website

4th Notts and Derby.jpg

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Part of the 4th Battalion were at Tynemouth in August 1914 (Tynemouth and Whitley bay are next to each other)

Image courtesy of Find My Past

4th Sherwood  Foresters.jpg

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On 16/04/2022 at 13:04, Allan1892 said:

Part of the 4th Battalion were at Tynemouth in August 1914 (Tynemouth and Whitley bay are next to each other)

Image courtesy of Find My Past

4th Sherwood  Foresters.jpg

Many (belated) thanks for this insight - i'm in the process of transcribing the letters (it's quite an effort!) will post on here any information I manage to unpick.

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3 minutes ago, timsanders said:

i'm in the process of transcribing the letters (it's quite an effort!) will post on here any information I manage to unpick.

Looking forward to see your next posts with details from the letters. :thumbsup:

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32 minutes ago, Allan1892 said:

Looking forward to see your next posts with details from the letters. :thumbsup:

It may take a while! Is there a resident GWF handwriting interpreter?! 

Edward (the soldiers) handwriting is easy to make out but his father back at home is almost unreadable!

One of the lines I did pick out was:

"We are short of one and that is you... send a card as soon as you get this and as often as you can as we are awfully anxious about you. Best love and wishes from dad."

This was from a letter dated March 1917 - Edward d.o.w. June 1917.

I'm unsure how, when or where he was wounded - as a pioneer he may have been attached to another unit.

Is anyone is able to to suggest a route I could take to find out where he was in June 1917? 

Pte Edward Yates 15727 12th Pioneer Bn Sherwood Foresters.

 

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On 16/04/2022 at 13:04, Allan1892 said:

Part of the 4th Battalion were at Tynemouth in August 1914 (Tynemouth and Whitley bay are next to each other)

Image courtesy of Find My Past

4th Sherwood  Foresters.jpg

My grandfather enlisted with the Sherwood Foresters at the beginning of September 1914. I have inherited a very few short lines in pencil  (now rather faded), which recount how he was first sent to "4th Special Reserve batt" at Backworth near Newcastle, and from then until the end of December he was billeted at the Grand Hotel, Tynemouth, then the Esplanade Hotel, Whitley Bay, then back to Backworth, on to Whitburn Co Durham "to fire our recruit course", then back to Backworth before leaving there for Southampton to embark for France. So the 4th were evidently spread well over that part of the world. I also will be watching out for any details of the letters timsanders is good enough to let us see.

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1 hour ago, apt50 said:

My grandfather enlisted with the Sherwood Foresters at the beginning of September 1914. I have inherited a very few short lines in pencil  (now rather faded), which recount how he was first sent to "4th Special Reserve batt" at Backworth near Newcastle, and from then until the end of December he was billeted at the Grand Hotel, Tynemouth, then the Esplanade Hotel, Whitley Bay, then back to Backworth, on to Whitburn Co Durham "to fire our recruit course", then back to Backworth before leaving there for Southampton to embark for France. So the 4th were evidently spread well over that part of the world. I also will be watching out for any details of the letters timsanders is good enough to let us see.

Remarkably one of the earliest letters Edward sent was from Backworth (although it is undated)

Here is the transcription:

Quote

 

4th Recruits Notts and Derby

Backworth Camp, Newcastle

My dear old Marg

I am sorry to hear you are so bad but you must buck up and get well. We had to go to the infirmary and get inoculated and it did hurt. You won’t know me when I come home. I am as brown as a berry and I am getting ever so fat.

We are on parade at six in the morning to 4 o clock at night with 2 hrs nap time. If you write will you send Lily’s (sister) address. I wish I could come and see you but they won’t let us go a 100 yards without a fuss. We can hear the big guns go off at night when they are fighting on the sea. I have got a nice pal and he is going to write a line or two. I will send you a photo when we have them taken. You should see me in uniform. The gun I have is lively. I will send you some ___(unclear) at the end of the week if you are still there. It is nice at the seaside. I will send you some nice postcards when I go to Whitley Bay. Well my duck, I must close now because I have to take it to the post and clean my gun by 8 o clock.

I have not got anybody to spell my words for me now.

Good night my old Margo and I hope you are soon at home again.

I remain your loving brother Edward xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

This is from Whitley Bay

Quote

 

4th Recruits Notts and Derby

Whithall Hotel, Whitley Bay

Dear Old Margo

I received your pad and quill safe. We had just come from church. We all have to go every Sunday. We are just going to have our dinner that is stew. We have bread and jam for tea and a mug full of strong tea. We go to chapel every Friday and they give us some buns.

We can go to the pictures for nothing. Every morning we go and bath in the sea and it is cold. Then we have our breakfast. Then we go and drill on the sands till dinner and then we go for a long march in the afternoon.

Let me know if (sic) Abner get on. Tell our Lily (sister) to write to me as soon as she can. Would you like to go bathing every morning and it is a lot older up here than it is there. We shall be at France just after Christmas so I don’t think I shall be able to come home. I am glad that you are getting better. You must buck up and get home.

Tell our Dora (sister) to send me a bit of homemade bread and some butter because we never see any here and when we pass the houses and smell the bread you would shift some. Some days we get a hard dog biscuit for our meals. Tell her to tell billy to write. I am going to write to my dad on Monday if I have time.

I must close now because dinners is ready.

With lots of love from your loving brother

Ed xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

The Abner mentioned is my Great Grandfather who D.O.W. 1st Nov 1914.

Hope you find this of interest, let me know if you know anything more about 4th Special Reserve Bn

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Thank you very much for posting the transcripts of the letters. I am afraid that you have all my information about the 4th Extra Reserve Battalion - I am sure the detail given by Allan1892 is correct. I think the recruits can be excused for not getting the name right immediately, as they did not have this forum to keep them right. You are telling me a lot more than I can tell you. In my younger days my family lived in the North East and when my grandparents came up from Nottinghamshire to visit, there was usually a trip to Tynemouth and Whitley Bay for my grandfather. He seemed to have good memories of them. We never went to Backworth.  I suppose there would not be much left, but your letters might perhaps indicate which and why were the favoured locations!

For completeness the Third Reserve Battalion was definitely at Sunderland in August 1915, when after a spell in hospital in the UK, my grandfather joined it at "..........field G Schools" . Despite much effort, never managed to read the complete name, so consider you are doing very well with your transcriptions!

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If you register with www.nationalarchives.gov.uk you can download all of the diaries for 12th battalion. 

They were in the Ypres Salient area in June 1917.  Reininghelst, Ouderdom and immovable drive mentioned.

 

Steve M

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10 minutes ago, stevem49 said:

If you register with www.nationalarchives.gov.uk you can download all of the diaries for 12th battalion. 

They were in the Ypres Salient area in June 1917.  Reininghelst, Ouderdom and immovable drive mentioned.

 

Steve M

I checked my files and they were relieved on 28 June 1917. Possibly wounded on 27th at Larch Wood or Immovable drive as they were working on both. 

 

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40 minutes ago, apt50 said:

We never went to Backworth.  I suppose there would not be much left, but your letters might perhaps indicate which and why were the favoured locations!

Backworth is a lot different these days to WW1 period -- the colliery disappeared many years ago. The old village survives to a degree but the rest of the housing is post war, the miner's cottages went a long time ago.

The 4th Battalion are mentioned many times in local newspapers, involved in concerts at Backworth and surrounding locality. Men of the Battalion were involved in cross country races etc.

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15 hours ago, stevem49 said:

I checked my files and they were relieved on 28 June 1917. Possibly wounded on 27th at Larch Wood or Immovable drive as they were working on both. 

 

Thanks Steve, that was the best conclusion I could make too.

I'm sure I read in the diary (some time ago) that some of 12th bn were attached to ASC in June 1917, which further muddies the water. 

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16 hours ago, apt50 said:

Thank you very much for posting the transcripts of the letters. I am afraid that you have all my information about the 4th Extra Reserve Battalion - I am sure the detail given by Allan1892 is correct. I think the recruits can be excused for not getting the name right immediately, as they did not have this forum to keep them right. You are telling me a lot more than I can tell you. In my younger days my family lived in the North East and when my grandparents came up from Nottinghamshire to visit, there was usually a trip to Tynemouth and Whitley Bay for my grandfather. He seemed to have good memories of them. We never went to Backworth.  I suppose there would not be much left, but your letters might perhaps indicate which and why were the favoured locations!

For completeness the Third Reserve Battalion was definitely at Sunderland in August 1915, when after a spell in hospital in the UK, my grandfather joined it at "..........field G Schools" . Despite much effort, never managed to read the complete name, so consider you are doing very well with your transcriptions!

No problem at all - the info on 3rd/4th bn is all new to me. As they were home-based for the whole war there isn't much to read up on them so anything I can glean from GWF or from Edward's letters is invaluable. 

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