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Remembered Today:

Training after conscription


Guest Harold
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How long did basic training in the UK take after conscription, say a married man was called up in may 1916, when would you expect to find him in france. Also was there a training camp at Rugely or Rugby, writing in the letter from Grandfather in 1916 is not easy to read.

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Afternoon all.

My Great-grandad,who was a Derby man,was called up sometime during June or July,1916.

He ended up in a MGC company,after some time training with the 3/4th Royal Berks.

He landed in France,on New Years day 1917.

I believe he was training with the MGC,sometime between October and November of 1916.

Hope this is of help.

All the best.

Simon.

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In a diary I transcribed ,and which is now with the Boss, the man in question was called up in the March of 1917, trained at Glencorse and Etaples and was up the line late June. He was killed on 3rd August.

That's three months training before posting.

Aye

Malcolm

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Hello Harold,

The three months that Malcolm mentioned seems an awfully short time, and a sad statement on how the War was going! What Bob said fits in with the soldier I researched, also a Derby man, who joined up November 15, 1915 in London, was mobilised January 20, 1916 (a very early call up) and sent to France on August 25, 1916. He was killed a month later.

Seems like 8 months was the norm based on other research I read, but I suppose it also depended on the losses suffered by the battalions and what was going on at the time at the front.

Cynthia

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From Harold, many thanks for the replies, it is the first time I have used this site and have been impressed by all your answers.

I hope to play a bigger part in the discussions as I gain confidence in using the site

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In my researches I have come across Earle Houser of the Royal Canadian Dragoons. Earle died at the age of 20 on 23 September 1915 and lies in La Plus Douve Farm cemetery near Ieper. His death in Belgium came a mere 220 days after attesting in Canada. In that time he would have to be kitted out, get basic training, embarkation leave, travel to Europe – possibly via England, go to base camp, more training, advanced camp, reserves, front line. That’s if he was killed in the front line. I don’t know the circumstances of his death; it may not have come about in combat. But if it did, how could he possibly have been in any sort of battle readiness? It is heart rending to see the lad’s own signature on the attestation paper, effectively limiting his very young life to just seven more months.

By the way, it will be obvious to the military aces on the forum that I have guessed at the train of events that Earle may have gone through. I would very much appreciate it if someone could set out all the stages from recruitment to the front line. Would there have been any significant difference between Canadian and British practice?

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From August 1914 to April 1915 seems like an awfully short time for ANZAC troops to join up, train, and get into action in Gallipoli when you consider its only 7 months of which one month would have been spent at sea!

Tim

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clive, I agree with your thoughts that someone in the forum must know about the chain of events once a man was cinscripted. Knowing the british army it was no doubt set out in a manual somewhere

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clive, I agree with your thoughts that someone in the forum must know about the chain of events once a man was cinscripted.  Knowing the british army it was no doubt set out in a manual somewhere

My copy of ‘Infantry Training 1914’ gives a syllabus for a six month course of recruit training. Special Reserve recruits performed only the first four months of the course. The course is divided into fortnightly sections, some examples shown below:

Remarks

First Fortnight

Physical training 10 hours Physical training under qualified

Instructors (see Manual of

Physical Training.)

Squad drill without

Arms 17 For the first week it is recommended

That all squad drill should be with

Intervals and in slow time only.

Musketry 10

Lectures 5

Total 42

Second Fortnight

Physical training 10 Physical training under qualified

Instructors

Squad drill without

Arms 8

Squad drill with Arms 7 Rifle to be issued.

Musketry 14

Marching order 2

Lectures 3

Total 44

Tenth Fortnight

Physical training 10 Physical training under qualified

Instructors

Drill (including

Ceremonial) 8

Musketry 10

Field work 10

Route marching 6 Marching order.

Entrenching and

elementary field

works. 3

Bayonet fighting 5

Lectures 3

Total 55

Eleventh and Twelfth Fortnights as for Tenth Fortnight

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Oops!

That last post slipped out whilst I was still laying it out properly.

To make sense of it, there should be three columns 1) Employment, 2) Hours, 3) Remarks.

Hope you can make sense of it!

Roy B)

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Army Orders published in the early months of the war on the subject of the raising of the New Armies reiterated a six months training period. I would think eight months was a good average period from flash to bang. However, research is ongoing, and it is possible that these AOs were subsequently modified by ACIs, which I do not have handy. Help, anybody?

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Roy,

Many thanks. I think I can sort that out.

Presumably all that would take place before embarkation. Now can some kind pal set out the steps from embarkation to the front line?

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Two main alternatives. If part of a formed unit, disembark at one of the Bases [ports, list available], move up Lines of Communication to wherever orders sent you, aided / ordered by a bewildering cast of Town Majors, Railway Officers, Staff officers ......to rear of the brigade/division you were sent to.

Or, as a member of a smaller draft, usually to a holding unit such as Etaples, to await a need for reinforcements. It was even possible to be sent to a different cap-badge regiment if need arose. There was every likelihood that, if you were returning from illness, wound [but not leave] you would go to a totally strange battalion of your own regiment. This of course added to stress and old soldiers avoided it like the plague. I hear tell of a corporal of the Notts and Derbys Bantams, all of 5ft 2inches, returning from Blighty and being sent to the Cameron Highlanders, strapping brawny men, and both parties to this marriage were most indignant. Like some forced marriages, it was a success because I gather he ended up as a very small and kilted CSM. And survived.

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I have an account written by a man I knew Harold Drabble M. M. 4th South Staffs. whose Daughter Mary very kindly passed on to me. " I was called up end of April 1917 age 19, first went to Derby Barracks and stayed 2 nights in private lodgings. They sent us to Redcar, there a fortnight marching up and down. After that they took us to Bridge near Cantebury so they could make up a Battalion 1,000 strong- as a fighting Battalion. I was very lucky because the South Staffs Regiment that I went to was called a training regiment and after you had done about 8 weeks training they sent you to France straight away - after 8- 10 weeks. But while I was there they decided to make it a full fighting Battalion instead of sending 30-40 men every week as replacements. I was in England 2 or 3 months longer I would have been if it had stopped as a training Battlion.

I was in the 4th South Staffs. and we joined the 7th Bde. of the 25th Division in France. You had a little red horseshoe fastened on the back of your collar with a little bit of red ribbon. The horseshoe was the 25th Div., and the red ribbon the 7th Bde. On October the 7th, I think it was we went from Bridge to Southampton, got on a boat in the dark and went to Le Havre, and entrained for there for Bethune . We marched to a little Village called Oblighem. They put ten of us in a cowshed , Im sure the straw had been there since 1914 just thin wisps and we had just one blanket to lie on. We did a fortnights training then on Bonfire night we went into the trenches.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I have a letter dated 28th Sept 1916 from my great grandfather it reads in answer to letter seven etc, he wants something to kill the lice

so I know he is in france, and sounds reasonably happy! His daughter (who he never saw was born on 2nd Sept 1916, so he must have been at home in January 1916, assuming he was called up with the married mans conscription, in the may of 1916 this gives him four months to reach Delettes, in northern france. sadley his bride of 18 months burned all letters and photo's of him, his army records have also perished. still the search goes on. I will find this man if only in spirit

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I have an account bya young Norfolk soldier who joined up on 5th August 1914. As part of the 3rd Bn Norfolk Regiment they were sent to Felixstowe and immmediately were put to guard all important installations around the port.

On 1st September he was on a reinforcement draft which left Southampton on 6th October en route for St Nazaire. By train through France to Hazebrook where they spent a week 'messing about' before joining 1st Battalion on the La Bassee canal. ['I was posted to C company; the Company Sergenat Major's name was Franklin who, later on, had to face charges for being drunk in the frontline. I suppose he had had too much rum.]

'The weather was cold and wet for the first four days in the trenches . . . '

Not much talk of training there!

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When my father applied for a grant for further education, he stated on the form that his father, Richard Henry Polglase, had served from 29th June to 13th August 1915: a total of 45 days.

I'm presuming the first date is that of enlistment in London: the second is when the transport Royal Edward was sunk with the loss of almost a 1000 men.

A Falmouth newspaper dated 20th August 1915 says 'some few weeks ago volunteers left for London. Some were sent to France and a party was attached to the 18th Labour Coy. ASC and left in the Royal Edward for the Mediterranean.'

Many of the men were clayworkers and labourers in civilian life, so I suppose not a lot of training was thought necessary.

The paper says the men left Falmouth for Aldershot (this may not be right).

There is a photo of them marching in London in civvies.

I have 2 photos of my grandfather in uniform, alone, and with 3 other men, at the training camp I guess.

Is it possible to find out WHERE they did their training.

Kath.

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Here's what I get from my grandfather's notes:

Enlisted 8th West Yorkshire Leeds Rifles Dec. 5 1915

Daily training at Carlton Barracks, Leeds (while living at home) until mobilized March 1915

3 weeks training in Darley Dale, Derbyshire

2 months under canvas at Doncaster Racecourse

28 mile march (final long march) to Thoresby Park, Nottingham, more training there

Left Thoresby Park for rifle training in Doncaster of a week or so, returning for more training to Thoresby Park.

30 June 1915 disembarked for France on the La-Marguerite.

Glenn

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Chris Basey. With regard to the young soldier of 3Norfolk who "joined up" on 5 Aug 14 and was in the front line by October. 3Norfolk was the SR battalion, responsible for providing individuals or drafts for the regular battalions. If the tale is checked it may well reveal that he was already a Special Reservist, and therefore trained. His "joining up" reference should be his mobilization. By way of collateral, the two hard-pressed regular battalions of RWF received no '5Aug and later' men before late May 1915, a more realistic scenario considering that even well into 1914 the standard training period was 6 months. Please check again: these tales of young enthusiasts being in the trenches in time for the Mons Star abound. His number may give a clue.

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My Grandads records show him as joining up on 20th August 1914 and being posted to 18th Hussars on 18th May 1915, joining them in the field 10 days later on the 28th.

So, that gives his initial training period as 9 months. I can only assume that the training period was longer for Cavalry than for Infantry? :)

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Given that the cavalryman had to be able to do virtually everything the infantryman had to do [hence the same rifle, not a carbine] and master riding and the use of weapons in the saddle, yes, his training was longer. Cavalry Training 1912 amended to 1915 gives 12 weeks instruction on foot but seems, on a quick shufti, not to want to go into detail beyond that. Several Army Orders such as 324 and 388 of 1914 specified periods of training for recruits to the new armies, and I have the infantry bits but not cavalry .

I would be interested in the answer.

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  • 3 weeks later...

the diary for the 8th east yorks ( the regimental museum sent me a photo copy) for the 16th January 1917 reads ....some of them (the new draft) however have only had 12 to 15 weeks training

January 22nd 1917.....A draft of 65 men (yeomen) arrived today. the majority were dirty and ill clad

April 17th 1917...A poor looking lot of men most of them of the C2 C3 class many of them have not been out before.

Nice to think they were fit, well trained and well equipted. (I think not). things appear from reading the diary to be very very grim alround.

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  • 2 years later...

Additional background on the term "Town Major" ...

A Dictionary of Great War Slang by Paul Hinckley Sept 2005

The argot of the British soldier seems to be largely derived from a legacy of Indian and Arabic dialect words picked up and passed on from the previous campaigns in India and Egypt, coupled with the Tommies' rather awkward pronunciation of some of the commoner French words and phrases. This mixture made for a colourful and interesting blend. Learn the meanings of "iddy umpty", "a maiden's prayer", the "spotted dog" and to "wet one's stripes" from this website.

[Recommended by Brett Payne]

http://sir.cyivs.cy.edu.tw/~hchung/warslang.htm

TOWN MAJOR

Staff officer (not necessarily a major) responsible for billeting arrangements in a town or village behind the lines.

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