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Remembered Today:

3 Companies


Scalyback

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In the 1914 Manual of Law in the Territorial Force section it refers the infantry having 207 Battalions and 3 Companies.

Who are the three companies? Possibly The Manx units etc. It's very specific, see attached. 

Screenshot_20240609-182635_kindlephoto-126982982.png

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18 hours ago, Scalyback said:

In the 1914 Manual of Law in the Territorial Force section it refers the infantry having 207 Battalions and 3 Companies.

Who are the three companies? Possibly The Manx units etc. It's very specific, see attached. 

Screenshot_20240609-182635_kindlephoto-126982982.png

It’s not entirely clear-cut, but there were two TF companies - A and B - listed separately for the Shetland Islands and affiliated to the Gordon Highlanders, but without direct association to a specific battalion prewar.

The other company to make up the three mentioned probably was the Isle of Man company**, but the sticking point is that this latter was, most categorically, not a part of the TF and, in one of those oddities of British military organisational history, was the sole remaining active unit of the otherwise in abeyance (until resurrection in 1917) Volunteer Force.  The company was mobilised in 1914 and in a typically odd but pragmatic arrangement became affiliated to a reserve battalion of the King’s (Liverpool Regiment), but a year later transferred to join 2nd Bn Cheshire Regiment, with which it fought as an integral part throughout the remainder of the war until disembodied after the Armistice.

** in name only, a battalion for historical reasons.

Afternote:  It seems that in 1900 the Shetland Islands Volunteer Force establishment was three companies that contributed to the 7th Volunteer Battalion Gordon Highlanders, which would make up the three companies that you queried.  One company was located at Scalloway and the other two at Lerwick.  Initially divisional troops with 51st Highland Division upon embodiment in 1914, these companies were apparently subsequently absorbed by the 4th Battalion during the course of WW1 (probably because sustaining them from the islanders separately became impossible).

 That left the Isle of Man service company to stand alone in its unique position as the sole active unit of Volunteer Force (on paper a VB).  A rump of this latter unit (the older, less fit, and conscription deferred men) provided the guards for a prisoner of war / internment camp located on the island until the end of the war.

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Edited by FROGSMILE
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Frogsmile, Thank you for your time. The Shetland companies do appear the better bet. Now to track down the County Association archives, if they are still about! Given the remoteness of the isles I can see why they appear as a separate administration unit. Impressive to go for 2/3 companies from a male population of 12,500 in 1911. 

Will follow up might get a trip up North to treat the other half.  

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1 hour ago, Scalyback said:

Frogsmile, Thank you for your time. The Shetland companies do appear the better bet. Now to track down the County Association archives, if they are still about! Given the remoteness of the isles I can see why they appear as a separate administration unit. Impressive to go for 2/3 companies from a male population of 12,500 in 1911. 

Will follow up might get a trip up North to treat the other half.  

I’m glad to help and am now 100% confident that it was the three companies on the Shetlands.  Since I posted I unearthed in an obscure book that the 7th VB Gordon Highlanders was formed in 1900, with 3 of their companies on the Shetlands.  In 1908 that overlarge Battalion became the 7th (Deeside Highland) Battalion TF, in the process losing two companies to the new 4th (Aberdeen) Battalion TFand simultaneously casting out the three companies on the Shetlands to stand alone as “The Shetland Companies, The Gordon Highlanders”, which was still their existence as at August 1914.  Quite what 51st HD must have used the three Shetland companies for is intriguing (unknown to me), but I suspect it involved lots of guarding of the divisional HQ.

It’s been an all morning job to unravel all this rather convoluted sequence of events, which I couldn’t do via the internet.  The sources have been several Ray Westlake books, and an obscure, long out of print book on Scottish insignia - Badges of the Highland and Lowland Regiments (including Volunteer and Territorial Battalions) by William and Kathleen Bloomer.

NB.  Interestingly I have been completely unable to track down what the 7th VB adopted as their headdress insignia between their birth in 1900 and demise in 1908.  All other VB units of the regiment are known, but not that one.  It isn’t listed anywhere that I can find, but then 8-years of existence is a short time and reading between the lines there seems to have been a lot of kerfuffle.

 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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1 hour ago, Scalyback said:

Will follow up might get a trip up North to treat the other half.  

This might prove of interest in that regard: https://www.shetland.gov.uk/downloads/file/1344/the-fighting-forces-secondary-resources-information-sheets-for-s1-s6

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2 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

unearthed in an obscure book

 Now there are magical words! 

Again thank you for your time. One is blown away with what has been uncovered. I wonder if Riflemen Form has anything on the VB side formation. Out and about for work today(and dodging rain showers) but will read further tonight.

One item I did tick off, can't find any reference to a Drill Hall or Station on the Isles or the RN equivalent. So I assume the "county building" doubles up for various tasks. For an wide area with a lowish population the formation of the VB/TF companies is spectacular achievement. 

(The cap badge is now ringing a bell, possibly misremembered with my mind!)

Once again thank you, back to earning a "wage" for a few hours. 

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2 hours ago, Scalyback said:

I wonder if Riflemen Form has anything on the VB side formatio

Riflemen Form was one of the tomes that I consulted, but all I could find was a unit under Orkney - 1st (Orkney and Shetland / 1st Zetland) formed in 1860.  That seems to have subsequently become F Company 1st Sutherland RVC (aligned with the Seaforth H), until they disbanded in 1884.  There was then a hiatus until the 7th VB Gordon H was formed in 1900 as per above.  Their musketry ranges were at Ness of Sound (Lerwick) and Asta (Scalloway).  The communities that formed these companies were largely fishermen.

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Edited by FROGSMILE
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Probably. There is a but, as ever.

 Regulations for the TF 1910 state "204 battalions" as the Establishment.

The regs 1908 and 1912 do not specify.

The Territorial Year Book 1908 includes the following infantry:

Shetland.

Gordon Highlanders. Badge as GH.

2 companies.

Est. 7 officers, 235 OR, actual 10 / 138. [Clearly a recruiting problem, difficult to justify a third company when only at strong single company strength].

Best shot Sjt Magnus Anderson.

Former VF Unit 7 VB G H

"disjoined from 4 G H", period of re-engagement one year, excused camp.

 

 

 

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59 minutes ago, Muerrisch said:

Probably. There is a but, as ever.

 Regulations for the TF 1910 state "204 battalions" as the Establishment.

The regs 1908 and 1912 do not specify.

The Territorial Year Book 1908 includes the following infantry:

Shetland.

Gordon Highlanders. Badge as GH.

2 companies.

Est. 7 officers, 235 OR, actual 10 / 138. [Clearly a recruiting problem, difficult to justify a third company when only at strong single company strength].

Best shot Sjt Magnus Anderson.

Former VF Unit 7 VB G H

"disjoined from 4 G H", period of re-engagement one year, excused camp.

 

 

 

Yes it showed 2-companies in the 1914 TF List - as per my initial reply, when I initially thought that the third company might have been the Manx sub-unit.

There were 3-companies on the Shetlands when the 7th VB was formed in 1900.  My guess is that Lerwick probably reduced from the original 2-companies to 1 and that the other company was that at Scalloway.  The 1914 year book shows A company at Lerwick and B Company there too, but with a ‘Drill Station’ at Scalloway.  It looks to me like A company maintained its strength, but that the original, other two companies, merged and divided themselves between Lerwick and Scalloway.

 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Both thank you for your time. I think a deep dive into the County association archives if they still exist. 

As both of you are on top of this. Would the the 2 or 3 units be seen as a free standing administration unit, given that Infantry is based around the battalion not company? On a war footing I could see them taken into a battalion but peacetime, how did they do the admin for say no shows(who did get court time and fined) 

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My understanding is that, at that time "unit" was defined as battalion and regiment for infantry and cavalry respectively, with a lt col as CO, directlly responsible to the Sovereign. RA and RE unit responsibility was at major level.

I will look at the reference that I quoted, because there does seem to be a higher administration present. Just going up to the cold study!

 

 

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1 minute ago, Muerrisch said:

Just going up to the cold study!

I appreciate the dedication. 

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Intriguing: Officer Commanding is a major, C C Broun, but "these two companies have been designated as a separate unit

Does this give the major the powers usually devolved by the sovereign to a lt col? Probably.

Outside my knowledge base, and I am guessing that there may be similar dispensations even to this day.

One more easy access source to consult: the Army List.

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15 hours ago, Scalyback said:

Both thank you for your time. I think a deep dive into the County association archives if they still exist. 

As both of you are on top of this. Would the the 2 or 3 units be seen as a free standing administration unit, given that Infantry is based around the battalion not company? On a war footing I could see them taken into a battalion but peacetime, how did they do the admin for say no shows(who did get court time and fined) 

It’s important to keep in mind that there were four distinct periods of active categorisation for these Shetland sub-units.

1.  Raised as a sub-division (of a company) 1860.

2. Became part of an Administrative battalion 1864, increasing to company strength in 1866, and designated ‘F Company of the 1st Sutherland Rifle Volunteers’ in 1880 (which was affiliated from 1881 with the Seaforth Highlanders).

3. Disbanded 1884 (probably due to low numbers and waning enthusiasm) and thus, literally, defunct.

4. Re-raised (3 companies (A and B - Lerwick, C - Scalloway - as previously explained) but as part of 7th VB The Gordon Highlanders in 1900.

5. Converted to Territorial Force in 1908, though significantly not as part of any battalion, but defined as “The Shetland Companies, The Gordon Highlanders”.  Ergo they weren’t in a battalion, but they were in a regiment.  It was then I think that they were just two companies.  To me the logic of this is that they would very probably have been under command for administration of the regimental headquarters and depot.  Had that not been the case then I cannot see how they wouldn’t have been aligned with a clearly specified battalion of the TF Gordon Highlanders.  Alternatively, perhaps there was some direct command linkage with the locally appropriate Territorial Force Association, although I don’t see how that could work militarily, as it was merely a rubber stamping organisation for funding and the link with government (War Office and HM Treasury).

Edited by FROGSMILE
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15 minutes ago, Muerrisch said:

Intriguing: Officer Commanding is a major, C C Broun, but "these two companies have been designated as a separate unit

Does this give the major the powers usually devolved by the sovereign to a lt col? Probably.

Outside my knowledge base, and I am guessing that there may be similar dispensations even to this day.

One more easy access source to consult: the Army List.

Yes, a major in such circumstances is given formally the powers of a commanding officer.

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33 minutes ago, esco said:

Shetland Company shoulder title .IMG_4760.JPG.0ca44359f94228229aa603411827d396.JPG

Very interesting to see.  That must be as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth.  Thank you for posting it.

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