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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

28162 Pte H.T Spratling, Norfolk Regt


Guest Bryan Hogwood

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Guest Bryan Hogwood

28162 Pte Harry Thomas Spratling, Norfolk Regt (later 54798 - Essex Regt) was my grandfather.

Prior to the war he was a coal miner in the Kent coalfields, joined the army in 1917, wounded and honourably discharged in Dec 1918, then resumed work down the pit until retirement (awared BEM - Civil Division - 1949).

There are 2 questions I would like to ask and would appreciate any light shed:

1. As a coal miner, presumably a reserved occupation, would my grandfather have been eligible for conscription, or could he still volunteer?

2. As a resident of Dover, Kent, why would he have been placed in the Norfolk Regt, as opposed, for example, to the Royal East Kent Regt?

(Incidently, same applies to his brother, 22797 A/Sgt Albert Spratling, who was in the South Wales Borderers - later 223808 - Labour Corps. A third brother - 182032 Frederick William Spratling, served in the Royal Navy and was a Chief Petty Officer (Gun layer) on the battlecruiser, HMS Inflexible from 1912 to 1918).

Thank you,

Bryan

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I do not know much about anything, but know that 50.3% of the Army were conscripts. He would not of had a choice of regiment as a conscript. Just sent where necessary.

My own grandad seemed not to have been a "volunteer" and was called up in 1916 or so - came from Kent (RGA - Woolwich).

Someone else on this site will give you more info. though., they are far more knowledgeable than I am.

regards

susan. :)

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Susan,

It's common misconception that miners were in a "Reserved Occupation" during WWI, as over 30,000 Durham miners had voluntarily enlisted by April 1915. This left only old men and young boys to work a single shift and as a result production was effected greatly.

Nor was there any effort to return these miners despite the shortage of coal and men to mine it.

The first time reference I have to miners having some form of dispensation from enlistment is under the Derby Scheme, but it seems that it wasn't enforced until the passing of the Military Services Act, that mining became the Reserved Occupation we know of today.

At the same time I think I would be right in saying there was some leaway in the MSA and that fit men from Reserved Occupations could infact be conscripted as and when they were required.

Graham.

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post-7376-1131403638.jpg

post-7376-1131403597.jpg

Susan,

This is a "Coal Mines Form B - Certificate of Exemption" for a "Stallman" working in the coal mines, who has Voluntarily Enlisted through the Derby Scheme and been placed into the Army Reserve Class 'B'. The certificates issued under the Military Services Act 1916 were I believe red in colour.

Graham.

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Guest Bryan Hogwood

Thanks very much for replies to my first post.

So my grandfather could have volunteered, or he could have been conscripted. I believe a few miners from Tilmanstone Colliery (just outside Dover) ended up in the Norfolk Regt. Would the method of entry to the army have any bearing on placement?

In addition, I've no idea which battalion he was in. It will be some time before I have the opportunity to see whether his service record survived. Would his serial no. give an indication?

Bryan

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It's pretty much a straight 30% chance. Apparently, a few Regiments like the Guards had their service records elsewhere, but otherwise there is no rhyme or reason to those that remain.

However, the Medal Rolls generally survive. Most infantry regiments rolls will at least tell you what battalions he served in.

The references on the Medal Index Card refer to these books held at the NA.

Steve.

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Graham,

Thanks for that.

Susan.

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