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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Civilian to Soldier - How Long?


Guest C729LEE

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Just looking through my collection and assorted paperwork, the question popped into my mind,

How long did it take to get to the front line, if a man volunteered for an infantry unit or was called up with him being fit for front line duty, a non-essential trade, a non-reservist, not on a scheme, etc.

The quickest route to the battlefield?

The MIC's were, all but a few, casualties with 'Date of Entry' and of course date of action/death found on CWGC/SDGW. It just struck me that some were only in the theatre of war a matter of weeks before getting the chop.

Of course many initial 1914 BEF came through unscathed (if you can call it that)

and survived the war, though some only lasted a matter of days?/weeks.

As time goes by and I read the entries on this Forum, they encourage me to study further, I am finding myself drawn more and more to the written detail of a man's service.

WW1 has always been an interest, and the enormity of it all was never lost on me,

though the affects on ordinary working class types, like myself have really been in the background.

Lee

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Lee - I have some dates for my Grandfather's service. He joined a Territorial battalion. He enlisted on 11th August 1915, and joined his battalion at Neuville St. Vaast on 28th March, 1916 - 7 months later.

Tom

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Tom

Thanks for the reply.

Would you say that seven months would be about the shortest time, or the average?

I'd be interested to know if anyone has shorter periods of time.

I found one chap who volunteered/attested in Sept. 1914, but was not called upon to do his duty until the latter part of 1917-he was a steelworker, and I suppose needed at home for his work.

Lee

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Hi Lee,

Couple more examples for you:

Pte Fred Birkett 1/5th Lincs TF (volunteer). Grimsby

attested 10.9.14 (aged 17 yrs 10 mnths)

France. 25.6.15 to 13.10.15

19.3.16 to 17.2.17

30.7.17 to 5.8.17

Pte Reuben Purple 2/5th Lincs TF (Derby scheme). Lee S.London

attested. 10.12.15 (aged 38)

mobilied 16.9.16

posted 24.9.16

France. 23.2.17 to 23.4.17

10.9.17 to 31.3.18

3.6.18 to 4.10.18

both survivors.

Steve.

I'd be interested if somebody has similar details for a conscript.

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By way of comparison, ratings' basic training in the RN lasted for 3 months.

Then they would continue training either at sea or ashore.

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Lee,

Was your steelworker TF? If so he could have been an 'original' 5th who went on to form the 2/5th. Several similar cases I think, essential war work.

S.

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Hi

my Gt Grandfather attested in late November 1915 un der the last days of the Derby Scheme.

he was actually drafted to serve on 1st August 1916.

He arrived in France on 9th January 1917.

Was at the front on the 19th January 1917.

By 28th April 1917, he was in the casualty system.

regards

doogal

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Hi

My grandfather enlisted 16th August 1915, arrived in France late July 1916, and apart from 10 days leave in January 1917, seems from the entries in his pay book to have been in France continuously until at least January 1918, when the book is full. His Battalion were there until 1919, and as he was demobbed in April 1919 from that Battalion I assume he was with them for 1918. There are no records of any injuries.

According to the stories my father remembers my grandfather used to claim that all he did was look after the horses - but it was an infantry regiment, and his company commander was killed in November 1916 in one of the last Somme attacks that year. Who knows...!

Andrea

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Percy Alexander Margetts -

December 1914 Science teacher

Jan 1915, Enlisted as private in Leed Pals becoming L/Cpl

June 1915 Gazetted 2nd Lt in 9th Lincolns

September 1915 - to Gallipoli

December 5th 1915 - killed

Quite a year

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Lee

The only example I can give is my own Great Uncle. He volunteered late August/early September 1914 & landed in France with a reinforcement draft for the 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers on 9th December 1914.............Pretty short time frame between volunteering & going on active service, just 3 months .............not too sure what the quality of his training would have been. He had no previous military experiance prior to volunteering.

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Percy Alexander Margetts -

December 1914 Science teacher

Jan 1915, Enlisted as private in Leed Pals becoming L/Cpl

June 1915 Gazetted 2nd Lt in 9th Lincolns

September 1915 - to Gallipoli

December 5th 1915 - killed

Quite a year

Forgot to add - he got married in June of that year too, in London. He spent a total of three weeks in the trenches.

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Gentlemen,

Thank you for your replies.

There does seem to be a few differences in the time taken, I am putting together a picture of what it was like.

Dave

A quite a year for 2nd Lt. Margetts, a story repeated, I am sure, countless times.

Lee

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If you would be interested in U.S. Army information, my great uncle, Grover Carter, volunteered in August, 1917, was assigned to foreign service (BEF) in September 1917, sailed for England in October 1917 where he served as a physician a the Dartford hospital. In March 1918 he landed in France. He died of shrapnel wounds Oct. 16, 1918.

Ann

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