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Change of Regiment, Military Tribunals, Military Medal


Judith Batchelor
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Hello,

My relative, Bertie Batchelor of Berry Court, Cliffe, Kent, completed his attestation papers on 11 December 1915 and joined the Royal West Kent Regiment, perhaps as a result of the Derby scheme. His regimental number was 44841 and I have a photo of him in uniform with the RW Kent cap badge. Looking at his papers, Bertie was mobilised on 19 January 1917 and posted on 4 June 1917. However, he was transferred on 21 June 1917 to the Manchester Regiment by the "Authy Part II Order". He had no connections with Manchester so I am wondering why this was happened. He served with the 2/5th Battalion, Manchester Regiment. 

Also in 1916, in June and November, he appeared twice before local Military Tribunals. Bertie was a market gardener and worked with his father. The latter argued that Bertie was an essential worker but on both occasions, the case was dismissed. This puzzles me, as Bertie had already voluntarily joined the Army in December 1915.

According to his service papers, Bertie was "Appointed supd" on 4 November 1917, and on the 1 December 1917, he was Appointed (Paid) Acting Lance Corporal. He was confirmed in the rank of Lance Corporal on 3 December 1917. 

Bertie received the Military Medal but unfortunately, I don't know why. Presumably it was awarded just before he was made Lance Corporal. I can find no notice of the award in the London Gazette. I have searched the war diaries of the 2/5th Battalion and although other individuals are mentioned, I could find no reference to Bertie. Is it possible Bertie's award got missed from the London Gazette or is it a case of bad indexing? I would love to confirm the date.

Bertie sadly was lost as a result of Operation Michael on 21 March 1918. I found him in the Red Cross prisoner of war records and he died on April 14th 1918 and was buried by the Germans near Hargicourt. I am trying to piece together his time in the Army. 

Thanks for your time. If anyone can shed some light on my queries I would be most appreciative.

Best wishes,

Judith

30850_A000103-02268.jpg

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Welcome to the forum. I can’t answer all your questions, but regards the Manchester Regiment, men got sent where they were needed, regardless of any geographical affinity. 
You are probably aware that Bertie has no known grave and is recorded on the memorial to the missing at Pozieres cemetery.

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/852663/bertie-batchelor/

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Welcome to the forum Judith.

Bertie would have registered as laid down by the military service act of 1916 and then been sent home.

At home he would have been awaiting his call up according to the age and marital status group that he was in.

It seems likely he received a call up but that his family requested a deferment via a military tribunal, which might have delayed his call up.

Eventually it seems he exhausted the appeals tribunal process and was ordered to report for training at a Reserve battalion.

Once trained he would have been sent in a draft of reinforcements to one of the various theatres of war at the time. On arrival there he would have stopped initially at an infantry base depot (IBD) where in-theatre processing took place, including any climatic and special equipment training necessary to survive there.  From there soldiers would be sent to battalions in need of men regardless of their original cap badge.

Lance Corporal was not a rank, but an appointment for Private soldiers who had been identified as having some basic leadership potential.  The appointment effectively gave them a trial period to see how they got along.  It was generally unpaid but carried some small privileges, albeit that each commanding officer was allocated a few paid slots that he could choose to place a particularly promising man in.  That is what happened to Bertie, but as you can see from his record his substantive rank remained Private, which is standard practice. The first substantive promotion was Corporal, with two stripes.

If Bertie was awarded a Military Medal then it would be listed in a special nominal roll (name rank and number), but they were issued on such a large scale (the army was the biggest ever put into the field by Britain) that there were no individual formal citations.  After an action commanding officers were asked to put forward names of particularly deserving men (whose courage had been reported) and some would be selected. In similar ways foreign decorations from Britains allies were also awarded. Sometimes you will find something in the battalion’s war diary, but it’s pot luck as they were deliberately meant to be concise.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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4 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

Welcome to the forum Judith.

Bertie would have registered as laid down by the military service act of 1916 and then been sent home.

At home he would have been awaiting his call up according to the age group he was in.

It seems likely he received a call up but that his family requested a deferment via a military tribunal, which might have delayed his call up.

Eventually it seems he exhausted the appeals tribunal process and was ordered to report for training at a Reserve battalion.

Once trained he would have been sent in a draft of reinforcementsto one of the various theatres of war at the time. On arrival there he would have stopped initially at an infantry base depot (IBD) where in-theatre processing took place, including any climatic and special equipment training necessary to survive there.  From there soldiers would be sent to battalions in need of men regardless of their original cap badge. 

Thank you very much for your explanation. Bertie was a married man so I am thinking that he didn't have to go until conscription was extended in May 1916. I naively thought that once you had enlisted, you joined the Army straight away. The military tribunals no doubt meant he did not serve until 1917 and had to change his regiment as a result. The War Diaries of the 2/5th suggest that nearly all his fellow soldiers were from the Manchester area. 

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5 minutes ago, Judith Batchelor said:

Thank you very much for your explanation. Bertie was a married man so I am thinking that he didn't have to go until conscription was extended in May 1916. I naively thought that once you had enlisted, you joined the Army straight away. The military tribunals no doubt meant he did not serve until 1917 and had to change his regiment as a result. The War Diaries of the 2/5th suggest that nearly all his fellow soldiers were from the Manchester area. 

In the latter half of the war, when men completed their basic training, or alternatively when they arrived at infantry base depots in France, whole groups were sent in “drafts” of reinforcements to whichever units were in dire need.  Sometimes cockneys ended up wearing kilts in Scottish regiments and many men were sent to Irish regiments.  Everything was fluid and the Army in the field had to be ruthlessly pragmatic.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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10 minutes ago, Michelle Young said:

Welcome to the forum. I can’t answer all your questions, but regards the Manchester Regiment, men got sent where they were needed, regardless of any geographical affinity. 
You are probably aware that Bertie has no known grave and is recorded on the memorial to the missing at Pozieres cemetery.

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/852663/bertie-batchelor/

Thank you Michelle! Yes, sadly Bertie has no known grave and his official date of death is given as March 21 1918. It wasn't until I looked at the Red Cross records that I realised he had actually died a few weeks later. These also said that he was buried 300 metres south east of Hargicourt. It's a faint hope, but I wonder if his body will ever be found. This contradicts a family story which said that a friend reported that he had died about 6.00 and his body was laid at the bottom of a trench. 

1 minute ago, FROGSMILE said:

In the latter half of the war, when men completed their basic training, or alternatively when they arrived at infantry base depots in France, whole groups were sent in “drafts” of reinforcements to whichever units were in dire need.  Sometimes cockneys ended up wearing kilts in Scottish regiments and many men were sent to Irish regiments.  Everything was fluid and the Army in the field had to be ruthlessly pragmatic.

Yes, you can understand why that was necessary. Hopefully the Mancunians welcomed a Kentish lad to their ranks!

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6 minutes ago, Judith Batchelor said:

Thank you Michelle! Yes, sadly Bertie has no known grave and his official date of death is given as March 21 1918. It wasn't until I looked at the Red Cross records that I realised he had actually died a few weeks later. These also said that he was buried 300 metres south east of Hargicourt. It's a faint hope, but I wonder if his body will ever be found. This contradicts a family story which said that a friend reported that he had died about 6.00 and his body was laid at the bottom of a trench. 

Yes, you can understand why that was necessary. Hopefully the Mancunians welcomed a Kentish lad to their ranks!

By that stage of the war it was very much a citizens army and generally speaking contemporary accounts indicate that the majority mucked in and made the best of it.  They were more interested in their next meal and when the rum ration was coming around.  Men were judged not by how they spoke but how they behaved.  Military service is a great leveller.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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43 minutes ago, Judith Batchelor said:

Appointed supd" on 4 November 1917,

Read - appointed unpaid

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Hi @Judith Batchelor and welcome to the forum.

The National Archive Catalogue does show a Military Medal for a 44841 Private B. Batchelor, but has him serving with the 2/8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.
The London Gazette date is very difficult to make out - possibly either January or June 1918. The card does however have a schedule number - 118503.

803558826_BBatchelor44841ManchestersMMCardsourcedNationalArchive.png.35fb3ed47b88afb8b83fe74f336718c4.png

Image courtesy The National Archive.

Hopefully one of the forum subject matter experts like @Ivor Anderson can tie that schedule number back to a likely period of award.

Cheers,
Peter

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Like all regiments associated with Britain’s biggest cities the Manchester Regiment was especially large, and formed a lot of battalions.

From the parent website the LongLongTrail:

2/8th (Ardwick) Battalion Territorial Force.
Formed at Ardwick in August 1914 as a second line unit. In November 1914 was placed under command of 199th Brigade in 66th (2nd East Lancashire) Division and was located at Southport. Moved to Crowborough in May 1915, went on to Colchester in March 1916.
February 1917 : landed in France.
April 1918 : reduced to cadre.
13 February 1918 : disbanded in France.

 

79C6108D-3508-453E-969C-D10A5703BB2C.jpeg

788C1906-1743-48AD-9852-F4480F934D84.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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On disbandment of the 2/8th could well have been transferred to the 2/5th.

Is anyone able to check the service record or the Victory Medal & British War Medal Roll to confirm?

Cheers,
Peter

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2 minutes ago, PRC said:

On disbandment of the 2/8th could well have been transferred to the 2/5th.

Is anyone able to check the service record or the Victory Medal & British War Medal Roll to confirm?

Cheers,
Peter

The medal rolls shows the 2/8th Manchesters followed by the 2/5th Manchesters

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28 minutes ago, PRC said:

On disbandment of the 2/8th could well have been transferred to the 2/5th.

Is anyone able to check the service record or the Victory Medal & British War Medal Roll to confirm?

Cheers,
Peter

Yes that seems conceivable.  The 2/5th carried on until April before themselves being reduced to cadre and then disbanded in the July.

Afternote: I see that Allan confirmed that. 👍

Edited by FROGSMILE
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16 minutes ago, Allan1892 said:

Image from his service record (courtesy of Find My Past)

Bachelor.jpg

Captured in March with 2/5th and then died in captivity as Judith mentioned.  One of so many who copped it during that dark period when we came close to the brink of defeat.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Slightly better image showing that he was posted to the 2/5th on the 13 February 1918 (image courtesy of Find My Past)

Bachelor 2.jpg

1 minute ago, FROGSMILE said:

Captured in March with 2/5th

Captured 21 March 1918

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4 minutes ago, Allan1892 said:

Slightly better image showing that he was posted to the 2/5th on the 13 February 1918 (image courtesy of Find My Past)

Bachelor 2.jpg

Captured 21 March 1918

Opening day of the German Spring offensive, a date deeply marked in history for so many families.  It’s often overlooked that the casualty levels of 1918 were up there with those of 1916, and many of them along the Somme to boot.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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22 minutes ago, Allan1892 said:

The medal rolls shows the 2/8th Manchesters followed by the 2/5th Manchesters

Thanks Allan - service history clearly shows he went straight to the 2/8th on being posted to the Manchesters in June 1917.

Judith - you may want to consider downloading the 2/8th Battalion War Diary from the National Archive catalogue as you may find his Military Medal award listed there. The final entries in the diary of disbanding units also sometimes contain a list of who went where on the disbandment - although that is not guaranteed.

Just in case you've been accessing the War Diaries on Ancestry instead, they can currently be downloaded for free from the National Archive. You do need to log in with your account, but even that can be set up as part of placing your first order. Just click on "log in" and follow the instructions - no financial details are requested.

The part of the diary from March 1917 to February 1918 can be found in the catalogue here: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7355584

Incidentally looks like you can date the picture of him in Royal West Kent uniform to those opening couple of weeks of June 1917.

Cheers,
Peter

Edited by PRC
Typo
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2 hours ago, jay dubaya said:

Read - appointed unpaid

Thanks for the clarification Jay!

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2 hours ago, PRC said:

Hi @Judith Batchelor and welcome to the forum.

The National Archive Catalogue does show a Military Medal for a 44841 Private B. Batchelor, but has him serving with the 2/8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.
The London Gazette date is very difficult to make out - possibly either January or June 1918. The card does however have a schedule number - 118503.

803558826_BBatchelor44841ManchestersMMCardsourcedNationalArchive.png.35fb3ed47b88afb8b83fe74f336718c4.png

Image courtesy The National Archive.

Hopefully one of the forum subject matter experts like @Ivor Anderson can tie that schedule number back to a likely period of award.

Cheers,
Peter

Thank you Peter for your warm welcome and for pointing out that Bertie also served in the 2/8th Battalion. This is recorded in his medal roll too.

 

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1 hour ago, PRC said:

Thanks Allan - service history clearly shows he went straight to the 2/8th on being posted to the Manchesters in June 1917.

Judith - you may want to consider downloading the 2/8th Battalion War Diary from the National Archive catalogue as you may find his Military Medal award listed there. The final entries in the diary of disbanding units also sometimes contain a list of who went where on the disbandment - although that is not guaranteed.

Just in case you've been accessing the War Diaries on Ancestry instead, they can currently be downloaded for free from the National Archive. You do need to log in with your account, but even that can be set up as part of placing your first order. Just click on "log in" and follow the instructions - no financial details are requested.

The part of the diary from March 1917 to February 1918 can be found in the catalogue here: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7355584

Incidentally looks like you can date the picture of him in Royal West Kent uniform to those opening couple of weeks of June 1917.

Cheers,
Peter

I am really pleased that I might be able to find something about his military medal award in the diaries of the 2/8th. I know it's a long shot but I did find several mentions of awards in the diaries of 2/5th. It's wonderful that these diaries are available for free to browse on the website of the National Archives. Thanks so much for all your help.

I thought you might also like to put a face to name, so I have attached the aforementioned photograph.

Scan 1.jpeg

1 hour ago, FROGSMILE said:

Opening day of the German Spring offensive, a date deeply marked in history for so many families.  It’s often overlooked that the casualty levels of 1918 were up there with those of 1916, and many of them along the Somme to boot.

Yes, a terrible day in British military history. 

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1 hour ago, Allan1892 said:

Slightly better image showing that he was posted to the 2/5th on the 13 February 1918 (image courtesy of Find My Past)

Bachelor 2.jpg

Captured 21 March 1918

Thanks Allan, it all makes a lot more sense now. I feel very lucky that Bertie's service records have survived. 

2 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

Like all regiments associated with Britain’s biggest cities the Manchester Regiment was especially large, and formed a lot of battalions.

From the parent website the LongLongTrail:

2/8th (Ardwick) Battalion Territorial Force.
Formed at Ardwick in August 1914 as a second line unit. In November 1914 was placed under command of 199th Brigade in 66th (2nd East Lancashire) Division and was located at Southport. Moved to Crowborough in May 1915, went on to Colchester in March 1916.
February 1917 : landed in France.
April 1918 : reduced to cadre.
13 February 1918 : disbanded in France.

 

79C6108D-3508-453E-969C-D10A5703BB2C.jpeg

788C1906-1743-48AD-9852-F4480F934D84.jpeg

Thank you! My next task is to piece together his time in service with the 2/8th and 2/5th battalions. 

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2 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

Welcome to the forum Judith.

Bertie would have registered as laid down by the military service act of 1916 and then been sent home.

At home he would have been awaiting his call up according to the age and marital status group that he was in.

It seems likely he received a call up but that his family requested a deferment via a military tribunal, which might have delayed his call up.

Eventually it seems he exhausted the appeals tribunal process and was ordered to report for training at a Reserve battalion.

Once trained he would have been sent in a draft of reinforcements to one of the various theatres of war at the time. On arrival there he would have stopped initially at an infantry base depot (IBD) where in-theatre processing took place, including any climatic and special equipment training necessary to survive there.  From there soldiers would be sent to battalions in need of men regardless of their original cap badge.

Lance Corporal was not a rank, but an appointment for Private soldiers who had been identified as having some basic leadership potential.  The appointment effectively gave them a trial period to see how they got along.  It was generally unpaid but carried some small privileges, albeit that each commanding officer was allocated a few paid slots that he could choose to place a particularly promising man in.  That is what happened to Bertie, but as you can see from his record his substantive rank remained Private, which is standard practice. The first substantive promotion was Corporal, with two stripes.

If Bertie was awarded a Military Medal then it would be listed in a special nominal roll (name rank and number), but they were issued on such a large scale (the army was the biggest ever put into the field by Britain) that there were no individual formal citations.  After an action commanding officers were asked to put forward names of particularly deserving men (whose courage had been reported) and some would be selected. In similar ways foreign decorations from Britains allies were also awarded. Sometimes you will find something in the battalion’s war diary, but it’s pot luck as they were deliberately meant to be concise.

I really appreciate your clarification over his appointment of Lance Corporal. Such a shame that Bertie never got the chance to fulfil his promise. If I find anything about his award of the Military Medal I will post my findings. Many thanks again for taking the time to reply to all my queries. 

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2 hours ago, PRC said:

Hi @Judith Batchelor and welcome to the forum.

The National Archive Catalogue does show a Military Medal for a 44841 Private B. Batchelor, but has him serving with the 2/8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.
The London Gazette date is very difficult to make out - possibly either January or June 1918. The card does however have a schedule number - 118503.

803558826_BBatchelor44841ManchestersMMCardsourcedNationalArchive.png.35fb3ed47b88afb8b83fe74f336718c4.png

Image courtesy The National Archive.

Hopefully one of the forum subject matter experts like @Ivor Anderson can tie that schedule number back to a likely period of award.

Cheers,
Peter

Searching under his regimental number, I was able to find the entry in the supplement to the London Gazette dated 11 January 1918. Thanks for your help!

Military Medal Bertie Batchelor.pdf

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         Bate & Williamson place the 14 Jan 1918 LG MMs as being for 3rd Ypres/ Passchendaele in October 1917.

image.png.43443263e70b3b3ecd625f9262a79dd5.png

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