Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Transfer to a MGC Coy from the Black Watch

The Guardroom

Recommended Posts

Again I hope the forum may be able to offer some knowledge on this question.

Have been tracing my Gt grandfather who I know was originally enlisted into the 4th/ 5th Black Watch (have photo in uniform). Not sure if he went to France with the BW, as his medal card only states MGC (which I also had been told he transferred to).

I have been looking for what MGC he potentially went to, but PRO has proved frustrating. No service records available, checked MIC and medal roll and only says 'MGC'. Not sure where to try next ? He was discharged on 23rd Feb 1919.

I also know that he was reported in the local press as being gassed (possibly at Ypres) on 19th October 1917 with the MGC. So was definately in some kind of MGC unit at the front.

Is it possible that someone transferring to the MGC from an infantry Regt, could later on be drafted to their original Battalions, Brigades MGC Company ? So for the 4th/5th BW it could have been the 118th, 29th or 154th MGC Company's.

Realise that I could be clutching at straws with this theory now, but really want to find out what MGC unit he would have served with in Ypres.

His service number was 66138, if this helps.

Many Thanks,


Link to comment
Share on other sites


I also had relatives who served with the 1/5th and later 4th/5th Black Watch. They were from the Glamis area.

The 4th/5th was formed from the amalgamation of the 1/4th and 1/5th Battalions in March 1916. How do you know he joined the 4th/5th Black Watch and when was this? The battalion was obviously already in France at the time he commenced his war service so if he did see war service with them it should be recorded on his MIC. Perhaps he joined the Black Watch, trained with one of the Reserve Battalions at home, was originally earmarked as a reinforcement for the 4th/5th Battalion in France/Flanders, but was then drafted into the MGC.

As you suggest, when the MGC Coys were originally formed, I think their nucleus was made up largely from the Brigade to which they were attached. I don't know how the drafts were allocated to the MGC but I suppose it is possible that if he was originally a reinforcement for the 4th/5th Black Watch in the 118th Brigade then he may have ended up in the 118th Coy, MGC. There are a few MGC experts about who who should be able to tell you more about the manner in which the Corps was raised.

Another avenue of inquiry may be looking at his Marriage Certificate if he was married during the war. I have recently seen a few people find specific sub units in this manner. Another possibility is the Absent Voters List. Unsure how to research these but some others have also had success with these.


Tim D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Tim,

Thanks for the reply. He lived in Arbroath, Angus and story goes that he joined the local bn of the BW, hence the 4/5th Bn has been suggested. The 2 photos I have give no uniform id except that it is definately the BW.

I was thinking along the same line that he perhaps enlisted into BW, trained and later moved to the MGC whilst still in the UK. He would have been 34 by time of conscription in 1916, also a date set by late relatives and conforms with the service act of a married older man.

Have his marrage cert but this dates well before the war. Also tried the Angus county library for the absent list, but they say they got destroyed several years after the war and no records survive.

The only other idea I have is to check the company war diary to see if any menton is made of company men (as company diary's smaller and often contin some OR names) and specifically on casualties around the date he was gassed.

Trouble is there are lots of MGC Coy diaries and which won to check, hence the question on which MGC Coy it was likely he went to.

Often frustrating this searching, but have learnt so much about the Great War and what this generation went through.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Alan,

I certainly know how fraustrating it can be....especially with the destruction of service papers....Hitler and Goering certainly have a lot to answer for! My relatives were named Robertson and Smart. Of about eight great great uncles I have I have only managed to tie down the service of two of them.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

My Great-grandad also served with the MGC,and his story is as confusing.

Thats MGC men for you.

He was a Derby man,a kind of Conscript,i believe,which meant he volunteered to serve if required.

He was called up in mid 1916, given a 5 digit Army number,and trained with the 3/4th Royal Berks,a 3rd line territorial Battalion,that was,i think,used to give him his basic military training.

He was later transfered to a Machine Gun Company that was attached to a Brigade in which there was a Royal Berks Battalion,and he landed with that Brigade in 1917.

His number was 73313,which isn't all that far off of your relatives number,and i think G-G went to the MGC in October/November 1916,a time when hundreds of men a week were transfered into the Corps.

Machine guns became very important in the war to the British Army all of a sudden,and the Corps grew very quickly in late 1916 and early 1917,and large numbers of Conscripts from this time on,found themselves with the MGC.

You don't mention how old he was,but i wonder if this chap was Conscripted,did his Basic with the 4/5th Black Watch,and then was assigned to the MGC,for specialist training as it would be known in todays Army.

Many War Diaries from the MGC survive,and quite a few individual records as well.

Check out the main site for the Scottish Divisions,and look for any with connection with the Black Watch,and that should show you the Machine Gun Companies that served with them,but once they were in the MGC,they could be transfered anywhere they were required.

Makes it interesting(believe me!),but they are traceable.

All the best,and good hunting.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


When the BEF mobilized and deployed in France each battalion had 2 Vickers machine guns. These were heavy equipments and were normally carried on mules.

By the middle of 1915 is was apparent that the Vickers would be better deployed in specialist units, hence the Mahine Gun Corps. Increasing numbers of lighter guns, the Lewis, were issued to infantry battalions. I assume that battalion machine gunners would have beed transfered to MGC.


Old Tom

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Fred,

Gt Grandfather was William Edmund Scott. He was conscripted in 1916 at the age of 37.

There was a guy on the forum called Keithparso (no relation as I know), who was searching for him in March 04 but he has not replied to any mails which is a real shame.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds familiar,Alan.

I wonder if he was a Derby man,much like my Great-grandad,considering his age.

I think the cut off date under the scheme was December 1915.

My other Great-grandad was 36 when he was KIA,and there are many older than him in the Cemetaries in France and Flanders.

You have a name and a number,and i expect he has a medal card in the records available at the National Archives.

Have a quick search by name and number and you will surprised what you may find.

The only thing that would be handy,is his 4/5th BW Number.

When i searched for my Great-grandads MGC number on the site,it came up blank.

I was lucky,through a friend,to find his original Army number,and that speeded things up.

I found out he had 2 cards,but they were under his original number from the Royal Berks.

I am 37,but i am not sure if i would be able to hack the pace of the MGC as it was at the time.

You never know,though.

All the best.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Alan

I regret I struck out on your Gt Grandfather - sorry :(

By the way my on Grandfather was conscripted into the RSF & transferred to the MGC prior to being shipped out.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...